Have you been asked by a student for summer work?

As the summer holidays approach, many employers can expect to receive job applications from young people under the age of 18.  As an employer, you must ensure that you understand the implications and your legal responsibilities regarding the employment of Children and Young Persons. There are strict regulations governing the employment of under 18 year olds on the times and number of hours they can work.

Under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 employers cannot employ children under age 16 in regular full-time jobs. Children under age 14 cannot be employed. Children aged 14 and 15 may be employed as follows:

  • Doing light work during the school holidays – they must have at least 21 days off work during this time
  • As part of an approved work experience or educational programme where the work is not harmful to their health, safety or development
  • In film, cultural, advertising work or sport under licences issued by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Children aged 15 may do 8 hours a week light work in school term time. The maximum working week for children outside school term time is 35 hours or up to 40 hours if they are on approved work experience.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Restrictions Under This Legislation?

In general, the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 prohibits the employment of children. There are some exceptions to this general rule:

  • Employment authorised by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in advertising, cultural, artistic and sporting activities.
  • Children may be employed by a close relative in, for example, a family business doing non-industrial work.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 is designed to protect young workers under the age of 18. Employers must give employees under the age of 18 years a copy of the official summary of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, along with other details of their terms of employment within one month of taking up a job. Employers with employees under 18 must also display the official summary of the Act at a place in their workplace where it can be easily read.

The Act sets minimum age limits for employment, rest intervals and maximum working hours and prohibits the employment of anyone under 18 on late night work, as outlined below:


Maximum Weekly Working Hours
for Under 16s
14 years 15 years
Term-time Nil 8 hours
Work Experience 40 hours 40 hours
Limit on night and early morning work Under 16s must not be required to work before 8am in the morning or after 8pm at night
Maximum working week and hours Where the maximum week is 35 hours, the maximum day is 7 hours. Where the maxiumum week is 40 hours week, the maximum day is 8 hours. Under 16 year olds must have 21 days free from work during the summer holidays.
Time off and rest breaks for under 16s Half hour rest break after 4 hours work
Daily rest break 14 consecutive hours off
Weekly rest break 2 days off, as far as practicable to be consecutive

EMPLOYING 16 AND 17 YEAR OLDS (Young Persons)

Maximum working day 8 hours
Maximum working week 40 hours (If a young person under 18 works for more than one employer, the combined daily or weekly hours of work cannot exceed the maximum number of hours allowed)
Limit on night and early morning work Before 6am in the morning or after 10pm at night. However, an 16 and 17 year old may be required to work in a licenced premise up until 11pm in such premises on a day which is not immediately preceding a school day, during a school term where the young person is attending school. The young person must not re-commence work before 7am on the following day. Under 18 years olds can work on a licensed premises for General Duties but cannot participate in the sale of alcohol at the bar or in an off-license.

Pay your children for services they perform for your business, and you’ll actually generate an expense for your income taxes by pushing income to your children.

However, I want to be crystal clear that I’m not advocating you create some sham job for your kids to shield income from taxes. They have to be legitimately involved in the business. If the Revenue Commissioners audit you, you’ll have to produce records of their time worked, and you’ll have to demonstrate that the wages paid were reasonable. No €100 p/hr shelf stackers allowed!

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