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Employment law | Legal Guides

Certain types of employment, or an employee’s age, may affect his or her rights under employment law.

Children or young persons

The law sets limits on the type of work children (those under 16) and young persons (under 18) are allowed do. An Employer may employ a child who is over the age of 14 years to do light work outside the school term, provided that:

  1. The hours of work do not exceed 7 hours in any day or 35 hours in any week
  2. The work is not harmful to the safety, health and development of the child
  3. During the period of the summer holidays, the child does not do any work for a period of at least 21 days.

An employer may employ a child who is over the age of 15 years to do light work during school term time, provided that the hours of work do not exceed 8 hours in any week.

The maximum working week for a young person is 40 hours and 8 hours a day. If a young person works for more than one employer, the combined hours of work over a day or week cannot be more than the maximum number of hours allowed. Young persons are only permitted to work between 6am and 10pm. 

Anyone employing a child or young person must:

  • Obtain a copy of his or her birth certificate.
  • Keep records of the hours worked by the young person.
  • Get a letter of consent from a parent or guardian if a child under the age of 16 is being employed.

You can view more details on the hours that young people can work, and the minimum rest periods any young person must receive, in the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 as amended by the Education Welfare Act 2000.   

Fixed-term contract employees

Fixed-term employees have a contract stating when their employment finishes. If an employee is working on repeated fixed-term contracts, he or she is covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts. However, an employee must have at least one year of continuous service before bringing a claim of unfair dismissal.

Employees can only work on one or more fixed-term contracts with the same employer for four continuous years. After this, they are considered to have a contract of indefinite duration – a permanent contract. A guide to the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003, which aims to inform employees and employers, is available from the Workplace Relations Commission website.

Part-time employees

A part-time employee is someone “whose normal hours of work are less than the normal hours of work of an employee who is a comparable employee in relation to him or her”. A part-time employee cannot be treated less favourably than a full-time employee unless it relates to his or her pension, or can justified on objective grounds (the employer achieving a legitimate objective).

The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 aims to ensure that part part-time employees enjoy the same treatment as comparable full-time employees. A guide to this Act is available on the Workplace Relations Commission website.

Self-employed contractors

Most employment protection legislation does not apply to self-employed contractors. The tax and social insurance obligations and entitlements for self-employed contractors are also different to those of employees.

In most cases, it will be obvious whether a person is employed or self-employed. However, neither an employee/contractor nor their employer/client has the final say on the type of employment relationship that exists. If a question arises, Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, or a court or tribunal will determine it based on standard tests.

For more information on this, you can download Revenue’s Code of Practice for Determining Employment or Self Employment Status.

Agency Workers

An agency worker is someone who is employed by an agency under a contract of employment where he/she is assigned to work under the direction and supervision of another organisation.

The Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012 requires that all agency workers must be treated equally in comparison to fixed/permanent workers in respect of pay, rest periods, night work, annual leave, public holidays and the duration of working time.