While the employment of children under 16 is generally prohibited by the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996, a child over 14 years may be permitted to do 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 also do such work for up to 8 hours a week during school term. Any child under 16 may be employed in film, theatre, sports or advertising activities under licence.
An employer wishing to employ anyone under 18 must first require the production of their birth certificate, or other satisfactory evidence of age. Before employing a child under 16 the employer must also get written permission from the parents or guardian.
The Act further provides for the setting of limits to the working hours of young people, provides for rest intervals and prohibits night work. As regards working hours, young people may not work for more than 8 hours in any day or 40 hours in any week.
Employers who employ young people under 18 years of age must display a summary of the Act and also give a summary of the Act to the
employee. They must also keep a register containing the following information of each person under 18 employed:
Employers found guilty of an offence under the Act are liable on summary conviction of a fine of up to €1,904.61. Continuing breaches of the Act can attract a fine of up to €317.43 per day.
Complaints in relation to infringements of the Act may be referred to the Inspection Services of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
If a child or young person feels they have been penalised for refusing to co-operate with an employer in breaching the Act (for example, by refusing to work prohibited hours) then a parent / guardian may make a complaint to a WRC Adjudicator. Complaints should be made within 6 months of the penalisation, this may be extended by a further 6 months if the WRC is satisfied that a reasonable cause prevented the presentation of the complaint within the first 6 months.
For further information on the WRC visit http://www.brightcontracts.ie/
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