Your checklist for employing younger people to fill your workforce shortages

Wednesday June 30, 2021

It is unclear which has had the bigger impact, but between them Brexit and Covid appear to have made it more difficult to find staff in certain sectors. Despite there being more than 400,000 unemployed people in Ireland, many hospitality, leisure, tourism and haulier businesses among others are struggling to recruit.

Looking at younger workers may provide the solution for some of these roles. The youth unemployment rate for May was high at %58.8. With university students and sixth forms finished for summer and not much travelling abroad, there are sure to be people around.

Did you know, though, that there are a number of extra regulations that apply to employing 16- and 17-year-olds, compared to people aged 18 and over?

None of them should prove too burdensome, and they are all logical when you think about it, but it is important to be aware so you don’t inadvertently break the law.

Here is our checklist for employing younger people, along with a couple of more general tips to help you and your team thrive this summer.

1. Know your minimum wage

Reflecting their lack of experience, it is accepted that people at the very start of their working life may not be paid as much as more experienced employees. Minimum wage rates still apply, though. For under 18s it is €7.14 per hour.

2. Working hours and rest break rules are different

16- and 17-year-olds can work no longer than eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.

In addition, they must be permitted at least a 30-minute break if they work beyond 4.5 hrs; at least 12 hours of rest in any 24-hour period they work; and 48 hours of rest taken together each week, e.g. a weekend. However, if there is a good business reason why this last entitlement is not possible, then 36 hours of continuous rest must be granted with the other 12 given as soon as possible afterwards.

It’s possible to employ children under the age of 16 although with much tighter restrictions in place. Ask us if you want to know more about this.

3. There are restrictions on night work

Generally speaking, 16- and 17-year-olds cannot work between 10pm and 6am. This is relaxed for some types of work, including within a hotel, pub or restaurant.

However, this is only if there is no adult available to do the work and if it will not negatively impact their education and training. Moreover, they must be supervised by at least one adult where necessary for their protection, and be able to rest at other times.

4. Health and safety

You’ll already know that employers must protect the health and safety of all employees as far as reasonably practicable – no matter what their age. See the Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 concerning the safety of young workers (under 18).

There are several areas for you to consider including workplace layout, training and work equipment among others. The risk level of your workplace will determine how much attention needs to be given to managing this.

5. Keeping records

Good HR is often underpinned by good record keeping, and this is certainly relevant when employing young people. In fact there are some legal requirements to be aware of. You must keep records for two years of the following:

  • The employee’s full name.
  • The employee’s date of birth.
  • The employee’s starting and finishing times for work.
  • The wage rate and total wages paid to the employee.

Further considerations

Recruitment and retention practices have undoubtedly been shaken up across the whole economy. Whatever the ages of new recruits you take on, you may find it beneficial to review things like your workplace culture, training and development and total remuneration packages to see if they still appeal.

If you feel you need a few tweaks or wholesale changes, or want some extra peace of mind when employing younger workers, please get in touch.


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