Child and Young Workers: What Do You Need to Know?

Nóra Cashe

May 30 2024

With the change of seasons and an increase in annual leave, many businesses may consider hiring younger workers to help fill in.

But what should business owners know when hiring younger employees?

The age of the person you’re interested in hiring is crucial. An employee who is under 16 is considered a “child”. An employee who is 16 or 17, meanwhile, is considered a “young person”.

This is Governed by the Protection of Young Person Act 1996 predominantly.

What obligations do employers have towards younger employees?

All employees should be issued with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment within a month of employment, and this is applicable even if your contract is only for a short time.

And what about the type of contract?

For seasonal work, the most suitable solution might be a fixed term contract of employment, where the start and finish date are provided in this statement. Or, you could consider a specified purpose contract, which terminates when the “specific purpose” has been completed, useful when a seasonal project needs to be carried out.

Also, a seasonal contract could be considered here. This would be relevant if hiring for the summer season, for example.

What about payment and annual leave?

The full national minimum wage applies to experienced adult workers. Employees under 18 years of age are entitled to 70% of the national minimum wage rate, meaning they are entitled to an hourly payment of €8.89 per hour. This should not include any tips or gratuities earned.

And remember, young employees will accrue annual leave and public holidays the same as any other employee. And another restriction to note is that 14 and 15-year-olds can only be employed to do “light work” during school holidays. Employers need to be mindful of the exact scope of work they intend to give their younger workers.

What else should employers know about employing young people?

In line with the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 and the Protection of Young Persons (Employment of Close Relatives) Regulations, 1997, some restrictions do not apply to the employment of close relatives, although it is advised to consult with an expert regarding this subject.

A child or young person can be employed by ministerial authorisation in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising activities which are not harmful to the safety, health or development of the child – and, if they are not likely to interfere with the child’s attendance at school, vocational guidance, training programmes, or capacity to benefit from the instruction received. In this case, the employer has to apply to the minister for a licence at least 21 days before the employment commences.

Finally, all Employers with younger workers need to display the WRC poster outlining their obligations on breaks and rest periods for younger workers.

If you have any questions in relation to this article, please don’t hesitate to contact our 24-Hour employment law advice line on 1800 719 216

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