The Employment of Children and Young Persons

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996, governs the employment of children and young persons.  The Act provides for a minimum age of entry into employment; limits working hours; stipulates rest intervals and prohibits night work.

Summary Points

  • A 'young person' is a person aged 16 years but less than 18 years, and a 'child' is a person under 16 years of age or the school leaving age, whichever is higher.
  • It is prohibited to employ a person under school-leaving age.  However, a child over 14 years may be employed to do a limited amount of light, non-industrial work during school holidays.  Such work must not be harmful to their safety, health or development.
  • The employer must obtain the written permission of parents/guardians before employing a child aged 14 - 16 years, in addition to obtaining the child's birth certificate.
  • Prior to the employment of a young person aged 16 or 17 the employer must obtain a birth certificate.
  • Employers must be careful that where a young person holds more than one job, the total number of hours from the combined employment must not exceed the maximum set out by law.  Where the maximum hours are exceeded the employee, parents and employer may be guilty of an offence.

Employment of Children during School-term

  • The employment of children under 15 years of age is not permitted during school-term.
  • A 15 year old child can be employed for a maximum of 8 hours per week.
  • Children aged 15 may be employed as part of an approved training programme (e.g. FAS) and an employer may employ a 14 or 15 year old who is a full-time second level student as part of a work experience or educational programme. The maximum working week is 40 hours a week, with an 8 hour working day.

Employment of Children during School Summer Holidays

  • Outside school term 14 & 15 year olds are allowed work for a maximum of 35 hours per week and no more than 7 hours per day.
  • 16-17 year olds are allowed work a maximum of 40 hours per week and no more than 8 hours per day.
  • During school summer holidays, under 16s must have at least 21 continuous days free from work.
  • Time off and rest breaks

Under 16s

Maximum working day           -           7 hours per day

Maximum working week          -         35 hours per week

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


16 – 17-year olds

Maximum working day            -          8 hrs

Maximum working week         -          40hrs

Half hour rest break after       -          4½hrs work

Daily rest break                       -          12 consecutive off

Weekly rest break                   -          2 days off, as far as practicable to be


Early Morning & Night Work
  • It is prohibited to employ under 16s before 8am and after 8pm with or without school the next day (note – 14 and 15 year olds are not allowed work during school term).
  • It is prohibited to employ 16 and 17 year olds before 6am and after 10pm.

During the school holidays and where there is no school the next day, children age 16yrs and 17yrs may work up to 11pm at night ONLY with the specific ministerial approval.  Where the child is allowed to work up to 11pm the morning ban on work then moves forward to 7am.


Employers must keep specified records for their workers who are under 18 years of age, with the following details - full name, date of birth, starting and finishing times for work, wage rate and total wages paid to each employee. These records must be kept for at least the years in the place of employment.

Employers Duties

  • Employers must see a copy of the birth certificate or other evidence of age, and receive written permission of a parent or guardian.
  • Official summary of the protection of Young Person Act should be given to employees under the age of 18 years, together with other details of their terms of employment within one month of taking up the position.
  • The official summary of the act must be displayed at the workplace where it can be easily read.

View the full document here. You can also download the document below:

Download (PDF, 230KB)