Protection from work that harms you
Your rights under the UNCRC
UNCRC, Article 32: It’s your right to be protected from work that harms you and is bad for your health and education. If you work, you have the right to be safe and paid fairly.
Your rights under Irish law
- The Protection of Young Person Employment Act 1996 outlines all the rules that protect young people while they work in Ireland. It’s your right to work in a safe environment and not to do work that is bad for your health or that interferes with your education.
- It’s your right to get paid fairly for the work that you do. If you are 15, you are not allowed by law to work more than 8 hours a week during term time and 35 hours a week during holidays.
- It’s your right to take rest breaks while you are working. These vary according to your age: for example, if you are under 16, you should get 30 minutes rest after 4 hours worked. Find out more here.
Did you know?
- Young people aged 14 and 15:
- can be employed to do light work during the school holidays, but they must have at least 21 days off work during this time;
- can work as part of an approved work experience or educational programme where the work involved is not harmful to their health, safety or development;
- can be employed in film, sport and cultural or advertising work under licences issued by the Minister for Enterprise and Innovation.
- A young person can become a SOLAS apprentice at the age of 16.
- When you work, it’s your right to get a payslip. This will show you how much tax you pay. If you work in a bar/restaurant and you receive tips, there is no law in Ireland that says you are allowed to keep these tips. There is also no law that says the employer gets to keep these tips – it depends on the policy of each restaurant/bar.
- Young people under 18 who work as part of a family business or who are hired by close relatives don’t have the same rules about working hours and types of work, as long as the work is not industrial.
- The minimum wage for a young person under the age of 18 is €6.48 an hour. This is 70% of an adult’s wage.
- If you feel like where you work doesn’t respect your rights, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission.
- The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 168 million children are involved in child labour.
Hear your right – read by Luke Ó Murchú
Tá sé de cheart agat go gcosnófaí tú ar bheith ag obair má dhéanann sé sin dochar duit, agus má tá sé go holc do do shláinte agus do d’oideachas. Má tá tú ag obair, tá sé de cheart agat a bheith slán sábháilte agus pá cóir a fháil.
What children and young people are saying
- “In some countries they don’t go to school, they just work at home, mind their brothers, collect water from wells. I’d be very sad, like the people in other countries, they don’t have the right to rest, they just have to work and collect water from fountains” – Christian (12) “The most important right for me is for children to be free from child labour, because some people are forced to work in factories and they wouldn’t get a good education and i would feel upset, because everybody gets a good education and i’d be working in a factory.” – Emma (11) “Some places, they are held hostage and have to work in factories from a young age and don’t get their education or anything” – Tara (12) “Being protected from child labour is very important … Children die from child labour and injuries caused by it. It also affects their development … Children should be able to play and learn. They should not have to work long hours.”
- Children and young people share their views on children’s right to be safe from harm
Find out more
- Citizens Information – Information on the rights and entitlements that young people have in employment are available from Citizens Information
- Cartoons for Children’s Rights- A short cartoon about children’s right to be protected from harmful work, made for Unicef’s Cartoons for Children’s Rights initiative
- ILO – Get information about the issue of child labour around the world from the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
- Youth Connect - This organisation works to make sure young people who work know about their rights
Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators
- Citizens Information Board – ‘Work’. A range of educational activities to develop young people’s understanding of their rights and entitlements in employment and related matters. In Rights and Entitlements for Young People (2010), pp.47- 78.
- Spunout – ‘Work Rights for Under 18s’. A short animation (01:36 mins) and accompanying information for young people about their rights in employment under Irish law (2015).
- International Labour Organisation – ‘Child labour in agriculture’. An interactive story, which includes definitions, statistics, charts, maps, photos and a short video story on child labour in agriculture (2016). Also available as an iPad app.
- Education International & ILO – ‘World Day Against Child Labour’. A resource to introduce young people to the issue of child labour (2009).