Rights of young workers

Who are ‘young workers’?

If you are between 14 and 18 and you work for an employer, you are a ‘young worker’ entitled to certain rights and protections.

The law sets out different rules for young workers, depending on your age. Workers aged 14 and 15 are classed as ‘children’. Workers aged 16 and 17 are classed as ‘young persons’.

Proof of age and written permission from parents

Before starting a job, young workers must provide proof of age, such as a birth certificate.

Those under 16 also need written permission from a parent or guardian, which must be given to the employer.

The law on young workers is set out in the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996.

Read more about working hours and rest breaks for children and young people.

Employment rights for young workers

Basic employment rights and entitlements

In most cases, young workers have the same employment rights and entitlements as other employees. For example, they have a right to basic information about their terms of employment and entitlements to annual leave and benefit for public holidays.

Extra protections for young workers

Because young workers usually balance work with education, they are protected by extra employment laws than adults. This is to make sure their work does not put their health or education at risk.

For example, the law for young workers:

  • Sets minimum age limits for employment
  • Sets maximum working hours
  • Bans anyone under 18 from doing late-night work
  • Requires young workers to get specific rest periods
  • Requires employers to keep specified records for workers under 18

Restrictions on employing 14 and 15 year-olds

Children aged 14 and 15 cannot be employed in regular full-time jobs. However, they can:

  • Do light work during the school holidays (with at least 21 days off during this time)
  • Take part in an approved work experience or educational programme (once it is not harmful to their health, safety, or development)
  • Work in film, cultural, advertising or sport (under certain licences)

Working hours for 14 and 15 year-olds

Outside school term time

Children aged 14 and 15 can work a maximum of 35 hours a week (or up to 40 hours if they are on approved work experience).

During school term time

Children aged 14 are not allowed to work during school time. Children aged 15 can do 8 hours of light work a week.

Restrictions on employing 16 and 17 year-olds

Young people aged 16 and 17 can work a maximum of 8 hours a day, up to 40 hours a week.

If you are under 18 and work more than one job, the total hours you work each day or week cannot be over the maximum allowed.

Young people are only allowed to work between 6am and 10pm. Any exceptions to this rule must be set out by regulations – see ‘Working in a licensed premises' below.

Leaving school early for a job

If you are 16 or 17 and leave school early for a job, you must tell Tusla.

Tusla makes sure that every child either attends school, or gets a minimum education. It keeps a register of young people aged 16 and 17 who leave school early to take up a job.

Tusla also makes arrangements for your continuing education and training in consultation with education providers and employers.

Working in a licensed premises (such as a pub)

Young people who are in school can be employed on general duties in a licensed premises, such as a pub. General duties do not include selling alcohol at the bar or in an off-licence.

During school term, you can only work until 11pm on a day that is not immediately before a school day. For example, you can work until 11pm on Friday night if you are not in school on Saturday. However, you cannot work until 11pm on Sunday if you must be in school on Monday.

Employers who employ young people in a licensed premises must follow the Code of Practice concerning the Employment of Young Persons in Licensed Premises (pdf).

The law on young workers employed in licensed premises is set out in the Protection of Young Persons Act 1996 (Employment in Licensed Premises) Regulations 2001.

Paying young people

Getting a payslip

All employees, regardless of age, have a right to get a payslip. A payslip is a written statement from the employer that explains your total pay before tax, and all details of any deductions from pay.

Find out what your payslip should include and how your tax is calculated.

Minimum wage

Since 1 January 2024, the national minimum wage is €12.70 per hour. However, not everyone is automatically entitled to get this.

Workers under 18 are only guaranteed up to 70% of the national minimum wage, which is €8.89 per hour. Your employer can pay you more than the minimum wage if they want, but they are not required to do so by law.

Tips and gratuities

Employers must follow rules about how employers share tips, gratuities and service charges among employees. It is illegal for employers to use tips or gratuities to make up basic wages.

Employers' responsibilities

Employers must keep records for every employee under 18, including:

  • The employee's full name
  • The employee's date of birth
  • The employee's starting and finishing times for work
  • The wage rate and total wages paid to the employee.

The employer must keep these records for at least 3 years.

Give young workers a summary of their rights

Employers must give employees aged under 18 a copy of the official summary of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, and other details of their terms of employment, within one month of them taking up a job.

Employers with employees under 18 must also display the official summary of the Act in their workplace, where it can be easily read by staff.

Breaches of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act

Employers who are found guilty of an offence under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act can be fined up to €1,904.61 and an extra €317.43 a day for a continuing offence.

How to make a complaint

If you have a complaint about a breach of your employment rights, you should first discuss it with your employer. If you cannot resolve your complaint, you can make a complaint under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

If you think you have been punished because you won’t break the rules (for example, by refusing to work prohibited hours), then your parent or guardian can make a complaint to the WRC on your behalf.

You should make the complaint within 6 months of the event, using the WRC’s online complaint form.

If you need more help you can contact the WRC Information and Customer Services, or read the WRC FAQ on employing children and young people.

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road
R93 E920

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Page edited: 24 April 2024