Legal Age to Work in Maine

Minimum Age to Work in ME

Maine (ME) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Must have work permit. May work in most businesses, except food service, hospitality, manufacturing and amusement parks.
16-17May work any non-hazardous occupation.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

Maine Child Labor Laws

Maine upholds a variety of child labor laws in an effort to encourage education and prevent exploitation of children. The laws keep young, inexperienced workers safe from potentially hazardous work environments while they pursue money-making opportunities.

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How Old Do You Have to Be to Work in Maine?

Individuals as young as 14 years old may work common, nonhazardous jobs in the state of Maine. However, some exceptions allow youths to begin working select occupations at even younger ages. Anyone working below the age of 18 must adhere to specific rules and regulations that become more relaxed as the minor’s age increases.

Acceptable Jobs for Minors by Age

Minors under 14
Youth camps, hospitals, nursing homes, and municipalities offer certain non-hazardous jobs to minors under 14. Pre-teens may also do agricultural work and perform age-appropriate family business tasks under the direct supervision of their parents. Work permits are unnecessary for individuals under 13, except for those working in the entertainment industry.

Jobs for 14 Year Olds
With a school-approved work permit, minors at the age of fourteen may work nonhazardous jobs in restaurants, stores, gas stations, laundromats, and ice cream stands. While 14 year olds are unable to gain employment in hotels and motels, they may some landscaping and maintenance duties on the grounds of these establishments.

Jobs for 15 Year Olds
At age 15, minors with working papers can pursue occupations in hotel and motel kitchens, lobbies, dining rooms and offices. However, the law prohibits them from delivering room service or even entering hotel rooms and hallways.

Jobs for 16 and 17 Year Olds
Sixteen and seventeen year olds may work in hotels and motels as well as nonhazardous jobs in manufacturing, dry-cleaning, and garages. Additionally, these minors may work in amusement venues, such as skating rinks, circuses, arcades, bowling alleys, and pool halls.

How Many Hours Can a Minor Under the age of 16 Work?

During the School Year
Minors are unable to work during school hours, and may only be on the job between 7:00am and 7:00pm. On school days, students may work a maximum of three hours. On non-weekends, holidays, and snow days, students can work a maximum of eight hours. In a regular school week, a student can work up to 18 hours and must receive one day off a week.

During Summer Session
While on summer break, students can work any time between 7:00am and 9:00pm for a total of 40 hours per week. Minors may not work more than six consecutive days while on summer break.

How Many Hours Can 16 and 17 Year Olds Work?

On School Days
Throughout the school year, 16 and 17 year olds can begin shifts at 7:00am as long as they work outside of classroom hours. On school nights, these teens must finish their jobs by 10:15 pm, thought they can stay on the clock until midnight during the weekends. During typical school weeks, youths may work six hours a day for a total of 24 hours in a week.

On Non-School Days
Students may begin shifts as early as 5:00am on non-school days and work as many as 10 hours in a single day. In a week, they may log up to 50 working hours though they may only work six days in a row.

Prohibited Jobs for Sixteen and Seventeen Year Olds
The Maine Department of Labor prohibits individuals under the age of eighteen from working in environments that may endanger their personal health or safety. This includes occupations such as:

  • Mining
  • Manufacturing and storing explosives
  • Demolition
  • Roofing
  • Excavating
  • Use of heavy machinery
  • Use of power tools
  • Cash-based businesses
  • Establishments providing nude entertainment

Prohibited Jobs for Fourteen and Fifteen Year Olds

Fourteen and fifteen year olds face a number of job restrictions including tasks related to:

  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Use of motor vehicles and power-driven machinery
  • Operating welding equipment
  • Handling toxic chemicals
  • Food service
    • With the exception of serving fountain drinks and ready-to-eat foods from a cafeteria or snack bar
  • Working near amusement park rides
  • Door-to-door solicitation
    • For sales unrelated to school or organizational fundraisers

Work Permits

Minors below the age of 16 need to obtain work permits to legally begin employment. Teens often have a school guidance counselor to help them with their employment certificate application but the process becomes more difficult once school is out. Keep reading to discover how to get a work permit in the summer.

How to Get a Work Permit in Maine

  • Do you need a work permit during summer?

Yes. State law requires all minors to have a work permit before they can gain employment. Teenage workers may seek multiple jobs in the summer time, and must hold an employment certificate for each occupation they have.

  • Where can I get a work permit besides school?

A minor may pick up a work permit from local school superintendent offices or download the document from the Maine Department of Labor website.

  • How do I get a work permit during summer?

    • Apply for a position in a state-approved occupation for their age group
    • After a call back and successful interview, the teen must obtain a work permit application.
    • The applicant must fill out the form with their name, address and contact information, as well as a description of the job they have chosen.
      • Their legal guardian and future employer must also sign the application.
    • Submit the completed application along with proof of age to the office of the local school superintendent.
    • The issuer will look over the applicant’s grades as well as their truancy and disciplinary records. If they accept the application, it will go to the Maine Department of Labor to receive their stamp of approval.
source: Maine child labor laws

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