Legal Age to Work in New York

Minimum Age to Work in NY

New York (NY) Quick Reference Table
AgeSummary of Requirements
14-15Must have A Student Non-factory Employment Certificate. May work after school hours and during vacations. They may do delivery and clerical work in any enclosed office of a factory, and in dry cleaning, tailor, shoe repair, and similar service stores, though factory work is prohibited.
16-17Students must have a Student General Employment Certificate, while non-students need a Full-Time Employment Certificate, Non-students who are 16 or 17 may work full time throughout the year, and may also pursue factory work.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.

New York Child Labor Laws

New York child labor laws consist of various rules and regulations affecting the employment of minors in the Empire State. These state-mandated policies apply to all working minors younger than 18 years of age. The state restricts the occupational efforts of minors by limiting and limit the types of jobs and number of work hours available to underage employees. New York child labor laws also establish the legal working the specific types of official documentation minors need to obtain.

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How Old Do You Have to be to Work in New York?

According to state labor laws, the minimum age to work most jobs in New York starts at 14. However, the law makes a few exceptions for younger minors in certain occupations. At the age of 11, for instance, New York minors become eligible for jobs involving the sale and delivery of newspapers, periodicals, or shopping papers to private residences or commercial establishments. Twelve-year-olds may perform farming duties, so long as they avoid the use of dangerous equipment or machinery.

New York child labor laws also make exceptions for minors in the entertainment industry. Children under the legal working age are able to perform as models, actors and musicians. However, they must have an employment certificate, and to maintain regular school attendance to comply with state law.

Prohibited Occupations

Even when minors satisfy the minimum age requirement to work in New York, the child labor laws of the state prohibit them from participating in jobs that are typically for older,  individuals with more experience. Lawmakers in the Empire State regard work in fields like construction, logging, meatpacking, and mining as too hazardous for any minor to perform. Until the age of 18, New York workers are also unable to perform tasks involving:

  • Operation of power-driven equipment
  • Use of industrial machinery
  • Exposure to radioactive or poisonous substances
  • The production of bricks
  • Handling explosives
  • The custody of inmates in correctional institutions

 Furthermore, the state forbids residents under 16 years of age from working in factories, painting or cleaning the exteriors of buildings, and performing dangerous work on farms.

Permissible Jobs for Minors in New York

Despite a lengthy list of prohibited occupations, New York teens have a variety of acceptable job options available to them. While child labor laws forbid anyone under 16 from working on the main floor of a factory, minors as young as 14 may perform clerical jobs in offices away from the manufacturing zone. Underage workers can also work the counters in dry cleaning facilities, laundromats, tailor or shoe repair shops, and similar establishments. Other types of businesses, such as retail stores, restaurants, and recreational facilities, regularly offer jobs to minors as well.

Getting an Employment Certificate

New York child labor laws require every job-seeking minor to obtain an employment certificate prior to beginning work. This work permit rule applies to any worker under the age of 18, including high school graduates and minors working for their parents.

  • Do you need a work permit during summer?

During the school year and the summer, minors must have non-factory employment certificates at 14 and 15 year olds, student general employment certificates when they reach 16 and 17 year olds, and full-time employment certificates for older minors leaving school to join the workforce.

  • Where can I get a work permit besides school?

Outside of school, minors can find work permit applications at their local board of education office, or online at the New York Department of Labor or Department of Education website. 

  • How do I get a work permit during summer?

    • Minors may choose the type of industry they want to work in, and obtain a job offer and the proper forms
    • Along with their guardian and potential employer, the youth must fill out and sign the application for a work permit.
    • Job seekers must also bring proof of age as well as written confirmation of physical fitness from a doctor in order to apply for working papers.
    • The issuing officer will review the forms before approving the application for a work permit.

How Many Hours Can a 14 or 15 Year Old Work?

Minors in the Empire State deal with various restrictions on the time frames in which they may work, and the amount of hours they can get During the academic term, fourteen and fifteen year olds may work up to three hours on school days and eight hours on other days, for a maximum weekly total of eighteen hours. Jobs for these youths also require all work to occur between 7:00am and 7:00pm, with at least one day off each week. During vacation periods, the maximum number of available hours increases to 8 per day and 40 weekly. Work must end by 9:00pm each night between June 21 and Labor Day.

How Many Hours Can a 16 or 17 Year Old Work?

For older minors, New York child labor laws allow more flexibility regarding working hours. During the school year, sixteen and seventeen year olds may work as many as four hours per day Monday through Thursday. They may earn up to eight hours daily on weekends and holidays, as long as the work takes place at or after 6:00 in the morning and ends by 10:00 at night. When school dismisses for the summer or other lengthy breaks, these teens can work up to 8 hours a day and 48 hours per week, and can stay on shift until midnight. Regardless of the time of year, underage employees are unable to work more than six days of the week, except for farming assistants, newspaper carriers, and other authorized exceptions.

source: New York child labor laws source: Additional New York youth labor law info

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