Employers cannot employ children under 16 in regular full-time jobs. They can employ children aged 14 and 15 years on light work as follows:

  • Children aged 14 or over can do light work during the school holidays where the hours do not exceed 7 in any day or 35 in any week.
  • Children over 15 but under 16 can do light work up to 8 hours a week during school term time.
  • Children under 16 may work up to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week if they are on an approved work experience or educational programme where the work is not harmful to their health, safety or development. Approved work experience or educational programmes for people under 16 are work experience, training or educational programmes approved by the Minister for Education, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment or by SOLAS
  • Children under 16 must have at least 21 days off work during the summer holidays.
  • Children can be employed in film, cultural, advertising work or sport under licences issued by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Maximum weekly working hours for children under 16

Age 14 years of age 15 years of age
School term-time None 8 hours
Holidays 35 hours 35 hours
Work experience 40 hours 40 hours

Young people

The Act sets the following limits to the working hours of young people aged 16 and 17. If you are aged under 18 and work for more than one employer, the combined daily or weekly hours you work cannot be more than the maximum number of hours allowed.

Working hours for young people aged 16 and 17

Maximum working day 8 hours
Maximum working week 40 hours

Time off and breaks from work

You are entitled to 3 different types of breaks from work:

  • Rest breaks – lunch breaks, tea breaks and other short breaks during the day
  • Daily rest – the break between finishing one period of work and starting the next
  • Weekly rest – whole days when you do not come into work, usually called ‘days off’