European social affairs watchdog raises concerns about young workers in Ireland

European social affairs watchdog raises concerns about young workers in Ireland

A European social affairs watchdog has raised concerns about the number of young people and children working in Ireland.

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) noted that children under the age of 15 are being asked to do too much work and that wages paid to 16-18 year olds is too low in comparison to wages paid to adults for the same duties.

It has also raised concerns regarding migrant and Traveller rights, maternity and paternity benefit, and the age of criminal responsibility.

ECSR assesses the extent to which members of the 47-nation Council of Europe are fulfilling their obligations under the European Social Charter.

The Charter is a social and economic counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ireland ratified the charter in November 2000. It was found to have not conformed in 13 instances.

These include:

  • Children under 15 are permitted to do light work in Ireland but current laws allow them to work up to 35 hours per week, which exceeds the definitions of light work;

  • The wages paid to 16-18 year olds is too low;

  • Maternity benefits in the private sector are "manifestly too low";

  • It has not been established that adequate and affordable childcare facilities are available;

  • It has not been established that there is a sufficient supply of adequate housing for vulnerable families;

  • The protection of Traveller families with respect to housing is inadequate;

  • The age of criminal responsibility is too low.

    The ECSR is also to publish its assessments of the other members of the Council of Europe today.

    The findings include:

  • There is a significant number of children working illegally in many states;

  • The prohibition of employment for under 15s was not monitored significantly in many countries;

  • A significant number of states, including Germany, Belgium and the UK, do not comply in terms of fair pay as young workers' wages fall far below the level of adult wages;

  • Ireland and the UK are among several states found to not be in conformity with the charter's provision that women should continue to receive at least 70% of their salary throughout compulsory maternity leave;

  • Ireland is among 15 states not to conform to requirements regarding family benefits;

  • Ireland is among 17 states not in conformity on the issue of housing for families;

  • The age of criminal responsibility is too low in Ireland, the UK and Turkey;

  • Migrant rights were found to be problematic in almost every country, including Ireland.

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