Employing young people

At this time of the year many students and young people may be taking up summer work. Under the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996 you cannot employ children under age 16 in regular full-time jobs. Children aged 14 and 15 may do light work during holidays or as part of an approved work experience or educational programme. They can also work in film, cultural, advertising work or sport under licences issued by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

If you employ young people under 18 you must meet certain statutory obligations in relation to hours of work, breaks, rest periods and payment of wages. The full minimum wage only applies to experienced adult workers. For people under 18 it is 70% of the adult minimum wage. You do not pay PRSI until you are 16 but there is no minimum age for tax or the Universal Social Charge.

Further information is available in our documents, Hours of work for young people and Rights of young workers.

 

Protect yourself in the sun

The Irish Cancer Society has information on how to reduce your risk of skin cancer by following the SunSmart code. You can also find out about protecting children from skin damage that can lead to skin cancer in later life and the importance of spotting skin cancer early.

Sunbeds have been shown to increase cancer risk and from 21 July 2014 it is illegal for children under 18 to use sunbeds. Read more about the law on sunbeds.

Know your rights: Buying goods on the internet

Question

I have ordered a few presents from a Belgian website. Can I return them if I’m not happy with them when they arrive?

Answer

Since 13 June 2014, online purchases within the EU are covered by the EU Directive on Consumer Rights. Under the new Directive you are entitled to a cooling-off period of 14 days (previously 7 days). During the cooling-off period, you can cancel distance contracts without giving a reason and without incurring charges or penalties, other than possible charges incurred in returning the goods. The 14-day cooling-off period begins on the day that you receive the goods.

Upon cancellation, the distance seller is obliged to repay you within 14 days (previously 30 days), including delivery costs. If you choose a more expensive type of delivery than the seller’s cheapest standard delivery, you are only entitled to be refunded the cost of the cheaper delivery type.

The seller can withhold the repayment until the goods are returned or you supply evidence that you have sent the goods back.

You must send the goods back within 14 days of informing the seller of the cancellation. You have to pay for the cost of returning them unless the seller did not inform you before you ordered the goods that you would have to bear the cost.

The seller should have provided you with confirmation of the contract, as well as  information on aftersales and guarantees, how to cancel the contract and a postal address for complaints. If the seller did not provide you with information on your right to cancel, the cooling-off period can be extended by 12 months.

Cancellation may not be accepted in certain cases, for example, if the goods were made especially for you.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

National survey of radon in homes

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) will be writing to householders throughout the State and inviting them to carry out a free radon test in their homes. Work on the survey starts this week and householders will be randomly selected.

Read more about the survey and the dangers of radon gas in the RPII’s press release and information note (pdf).

Read our document on radon gas in buildings.

 

 

Know your rights: Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Question

My daughter will be 18 years old in August. Can I claim the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance for her?

Answer

If she is still in second-level education, you may be eligible for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) for her but you must apply for the Allowance and supply evidence that she is in second-level education.

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance helps you meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for children going to school.  Your children must be aged between 4 and 22 on or before 30 September 2014. If they are aged between 18 and 22 they must be in full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college.

You must be getting a social welfare payment or taking part in a training, employment or adult education scheme. In general, you must be getting an Increase for a Qualified Child with your payment. Also, your total family income must be below a certain level for your family size. The allowance is €100 for eligible children aged between 4 and 11 and €200 for those aged between 12 and 22.

The scheme is open from 1 June to 30 September 2014. The Department of Social Protection pays BTSCFA automatically to many customers. This means that they do not have to apply for the payment. If you qualify automatically, you should get a letter stating when and how your Allowance will be paid. If you do not get an automatic payment you must apply for the Allowance. If any of your children are aged 18 or over you must apply for the Allowance for them and supply evidence that they are in second-level education (even if automatic payments have issued for other children in the family).

Application forms are available in all local social welfare offices and Intreo centres, and on the Department’s website, welfare.ie. When a decision has been made on your application you will get a letter informing you of this and whether a payment has been awarded. If your application has been successful, you will also be told when and where you can collect the payment. If the Allowance is refused you can ask for a review of the decision.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Know your rights: Lost passports

Question
I am going abroad for the first time. What should I do if I lose my passport while I am travelling?

Answer

If you are an Irish citizen currently living abroad, travelling or on holiday abroad and your Irish passport is lost, stolen or misplaced, you must contact your nearest Irish embassy or consulate immediately. You will be asked to confirm the loss in writing or, if you are applying for a new passport, to include the details in your passport application.

You must also get in touch with the local police and report the loss of your passport. You should request a written statement that you have reported the loss of your passport to them. A member of the police authority in the country in which you are staying must witness this statement.

You will need this statement to get an Emergency Travel Certificate (valid for one journey) or an Emergency Passport (valid for a restricted amount of time) from an Irish embassy or consulate.

If you are travelling on a multi-stop journey, where you will pass through more than one jurisdiction, you will need a new Irish passport. Again, you must report the loss of your passport immediately to your nearest Irish embassy or consulate.

If there is no Irish embassy or consulate in the country where you are, contact the embassy of another EU member state. It will get in touch with the nearest Irish embassy on your behalf. An embassy of another EU member state cannot issue you with a new Irish passport, but can issue an Emergency Travel Document.

It may be useful to carry a photocopy of the personal data page of your passport with you when travelling or scan an image of that page and email it to yourself.

Any passport reported as lost or stolen is no longer a valid travel document and you should not try to travel on a passport which has been reported as lost or stolen.

Know Your Rights columns cover topical subjects every month in a question-and-answer format. They are published by the Citizens Information Board online and syndicated through Citizens Information Services to local newspapers around Ireland.

Further information is available from Citizens Information Centres and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, call 0761 07 4000.

Do you have a European Health Insurance Card?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows the holder to access health care services when travelling to or on holiday in another EU or EEA country. (It was formerly  the E111 form.) If you have a smartphone you can download the free EHIC App to help you contact health services in the country you are visiting. The app does not replace the EHIC.

Read our document on the EHIC to find out what health services are covered, how to get one and how to renew your card.

After-School Childcare Scheme

If you have children of primary school age and you are returning to work or working more days or are going back to work via an employment support scheme you may be eligible for subsidised child care. The After-School Child Care Scheme (ASCC) allows people who have been unemployed and are returning to work to access subsidised after-school childcare places (provided by local childcare providers). This scheme is open for applications from 14 July 2014.

You can read more about the scheme in our document and the Department of Social Protection has published an information leaflet on the scheme – SW135 (pdf).

Social welfare statistics for 2013

Over 1.4 million people got social welfare payments in 2013 and the total cost was €20.28 billion. When additional payments for spouses, partners and children are included over 2.2 million people benefited from a social welfare payment in 2013. The spending on social welfare was 32.5% of all day-to-day Government expenditure.

You can read about the social welfare budget and rates of payment in the Department of Social Protection’s Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 2013 report.

Find out how to test your home for radon

Radon is a radioactive gas which is naturally produced in the ground from the uranium present in small quantities in all rocks and soils. in some cases radioactive gas from radon can build up in homes and give a radiation dose that can cause lung cancer. You cannot smell, see or taste radon. Radon can only be measured with special detectors.