Young Christmas Workers Rights’ To Be Protected

Billy Kelleher, Minister for Labour Affairs, has warned shops, bars, restaurants and other businesses employing teenagers in the run into and during Christmas that they must protect the rights of these young workers.

Mr Kelleher said: "It's an increasing reality that many young people are taking on jobs, be it part time or full time during holiday periods. While many enjoy a very positive experience, others may find themselves exploited by unscrupulous employers. It is important therefore that young people are aware of their rights and what steps they can take should they find those being breached.

"As we approach this busy festive season inspectors of the newly established National Employment Rights Authority will be carrying out inspections to ensure compliance with legislation, particularly those in the licensed/catering and retail trade, where many of these young workers will be employed.

"I would encourage employers make themselves aware of their obligations under the Protection of Young Persons Act of young workers who are victims of exploitation to contact the National Employment Rights Authority's Information Services on: 1890 80 80 90.

"It is essential that these workers be treated appropriately, that their health be protected and that their education should not suffer as a consequence. This is why we have specific legislation relating to the employment of under 18s.

"The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 sets out a number pf provisions for young people in work, depending on their age, whether they are in school and whether school holidays are in effect. The Act sets minimum age limits for employment, provides for rest intervals and maximum working hours and prohibits the employment of under 18s on late night work."

The main provisions with PYP Act include:

  • In certain circumstances, employers can take on employees of 14 and 15 years of age for light work. For a regular job, the minimum age is 16.

  • A child over 14 years may be permitted to do 35 hours a week light work during school holidays provided it is not harmful to health, development or schooling or may be employed as part of an approved work experience or education programme.

  • A child over 15 may in addition also do such light work for up to 8 hours a week during school term.

  • A child under 16 may be employed in film in certain circumstances, theatre, sports or advertising activities under licence granted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

  • Young persons aged 16 or 17 may work a maximum eight hours per days and maximum of 40 hours per week.

  • Specific rest breaks are provided, depending on age.
All employers also have to keep specified records of any workers aged under 18 and display an official summary of the Act in the workplace.

The National Employment Rights Authority's Inspection Services undertakes regular employment rights compliance campaign in this area and initiates prosecutions in all cases where breaches are detected.


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