Minimum Age to Work in MEMaine (ME) Quick Reference Table
|Age||Summary of Requirements|
|14-15||Must have work permit. May work in most businesses, except in most jobs in bakeries, manufacturing mechanical, dry cleaners, laundries, hotels/motels, and most commercial places of amusement.|
|16-17||may work in most businesses, but not in hazardous jobs.|
|18-20||Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption|
|21||Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.|
Maine Child Labor Laws
Maine began implementing child labor laws during the industrial revolution to encourage education and prevent exploitation of children. Today, the Pine Tree State enforces a comprehensive set of laws to ensure young workers receive proper education and opportunities for personal development. The laws also keep young, inexperienced workers safe from working in potentially hazardous work environments.
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. However, exceptions exist for youths to begin working select occupations at even younger ages. Anyone working below the age of 18 must adhere to specific rules and regulations laid out by the state. Different for every age between 14 and 18, Maine child labor laws become more relaxed as age increases.
Acceptable Jobs for Minors by Age
Minors under 14
Children of any age my work nonhazardous jobs with youth camps, hospitals, nursing homes, and municipalities. Additionally, minors below the age of 14 years old may work directly under parental supervision in noncommercial and nonmanufacturing jobs in retail and service industries, with the exception of hotels and motels. The state sets no age minimum for child acting jobs, though the occupation requires a specific work permit. Agricultural work has no age minimum or hourly restrictions and requires no work permit.
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. Fourteen year olds may not work inside of hotels or motels for any reason but may perform landscaping or maintenance on hotel or motel grounds.
Jobs for 15 Year Olds
Also requiring work permits, fifteen year olds may work the same jobs as fourteen year olds as well as nonhazardous occupations in hotel and motel kitchens, lobbies, dining rooms, and offices. However, fifteen year olds remain prohibited from performing room service or even entering hotel rooms and hallways leading to rooms.
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, minors may work in amusement venues younger minors frequent, 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
Prohibited from working during school hours, students may work between 7:00am and 7:00pm. On school days, students may work a maximum of three hours. On non-school days, like weekends, holidays, and storm days, the maximum number of hours a student may work bumps up to eight. In a regular school week, a student can work a maximum of 18 hours. Students cannot work more than six days in a row.
During Summer Session
While on summer break, students can work any time between 7:00am and 9:00pm. Forty represents the maximum number of hours minors may work 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
Prohibited from working during school hours, 16 and 17 year olds can begin shifts at 7:00am. If the following day is a school day, a youth can work as late as 10:15pm. If the next day is a non-school day, a youth may work as late as midnight. During typical school weeks, youths may work a maximum of six hours a day and a maximum 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, a worker may total a maximum of 50 working hours. Sixteen and seventeen year olds cannot work more than six days in a row, whether in school or not.
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 personal health or safety. Occupations in mining and any job involving the manufacturing and storing of explosives remain strictly prohibited. Jobs in wrecking, roofing, excavating, and demolition also remain banned for young workers. The use of certain tools, like power-driven wood working, hoisting apparatuses, paper production, and metal punching machinery, makes jobs inaccessible to underage individuals, as well. Seventeen and eighteen year old workers may not work alone in cash-based businesses or in occupations occurring in the same environment as nude entertainment.
Prohibited Jobs for Fourteen and Fifteen Year Olds
Fourteen and fifteen year olds face a number of restrictions in addition to banned occupations for seventeen and eighteen year olds. All manufacturing and processing jobs remain off limits to individuals below the age of 16. Jobs involving any use of dangerous equipment, like motor vehicles, power-driven machinery, and welding tools, remain forbidden for minors, as well. Additionally, minors may not work any jobs involving the use of toxic chemicals.
In addition to being prohibited from working in inherently dangerous environments, minors may not work in certain environments where dangers may lurk less apparently. Any jobs involving cooking or baking remain prohibited, and underage food service employees may only work soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, and cafeteria counters. Additionally, minors may not staff any occupations around amusement rides, including selling or collecting tickets. Door-to-door sales positions also represent unattainable jobs for minors in Maine. However, minors may sell items door-to-door for school fundraisers or organizations, such as Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts.
Minors below the age of 16 need to obtain work permits to legally begin employment. During the school year, minors may hold one active work permit at a time, regardless of the number of hours an employer may offer the worker. During summer break, the Maine Department of Labor may issue two active work permits at once. All students, including home-schooled students, need work permits to legally begin working. Minors need to request permits after receiving job offers and obtain full permission before beginning work.
How to Get a Work Permit in Maine
A minor may pick up a work permit from local school superintendent offices or download the document from the Maine Department of Labor website. The form requires the name, address, and phone number of the employer, a description of the job, and the signature of a parent or legal guardian. Once complete, the form goes to the superintendent offices for approval. Officials issue work permits after reviewing proof of age, which may include a birth certificate, baptismal record, or passport. Students with failing grades, truancy issues, and current school suspensions do not receive approval. Additionally, permits that lack detailed job descriptions often receive denial. The issuing superintendent office sends approved permits to the Maine Department of Labor for stamped approval.