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, but not in factory work. 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
16-17If attending school a Student General Employment Certificate is required. If not attending school, a Full-Time Employment Certificate is required. If not attending school, may work full time throughout the year. Factory work is permitted for minors 16 years of age or older.
18-20Must be 18 to work in establishments that sell or serve alcohol for consumption
21Able to serve alcohol for consumption. No restrictions.
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New York Child Labor Laws

New York child labor laws consist of various interrelated rules and regulations affecting the employment of minors in the Empire State. Overseen and enforced by the Division of Labor Standards, a branch of the New York Department of Labor, the state-mandated policies reinforce existing federal labor laws, which primarily regulate work performed by minors younger than 16 years of age. New York residents, on the other hand, remain subject to the child labor laws of the state until the age of 18. The state restricts the occupational efforts of minors by limiting the types of jobs and number of work hours available to underage employees. New York child labor laws also establish the legal working age for the state and describe the specific types of official documentation employed minors need to obtain.

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

According to state labor laws, the minimum age to work in New York starts at 14 for most types of jobs. However, the law makes a few exceptions for younger minors employed 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. Likewise, upon turning 12, residents of the Empire State may assist farmers in harvesting crops. Such agricultural assistance must occur manually, as the labor laws of the state prohibit jobs for 12 year olds from involving the use of dangerous equipment or machinery.

In addition to newspaper delivery positions and farm work, exceptions to the legal age to work in New York include professional engagements for child performers involved in acting or modeling. Each of the aforementioned jobs for kids requires underage employees to obtain the appropriate work permit, formally known as an employment certificate, and to maintain regular school attendance as prescribed by state law.

Prohibited Occupations

Even when minors satisfy the minimum age to work in New York, the child labor laws of the state prohibit any employee younger than 18 from participating in a variety of professional activities best suited for older, more experienced individuals. 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 also remain barred from jobs involving the operation of power-driven equipment or industrial machinery, exposure to radioactive or poisonous substances, the production of bricks, handling explosives, or 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 containing a lengthy list of prohibited occupations, New York child labor laws also include descriptions of some acceptable jobs for teenagers working in the state. While no one under 16 years of age may work on the main floor of a factory, minors as young as 14 may qualify for clerical jobs performed in factory offices away from the manufacturing zone. Jobs for 14 year olds in New York also include positions responsible for providing counter service at places like 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 for kids between 14 and 17 years old, as well.

Getting an Employment Certificate

New York child labor laws require every employed minor to obtain an employment certificate prior to beginning work. Also known as a work permit or working papers, the employment certificate applies to any worker under the age of 18, including high school graduates and minors hired by their parents. Each school district in New York issues student non-factory employment certificates for 14 and 15 year olds, student general employment certificates for 16 and 17 year olds, and full-time employment certificates for older minors authorized to leave school and work instead. School officials also dispense work permits for farm jobs, newspaper delivery positions, and other special occupations available to New York minors under the legal working age of 14. Job seekers must bring proof of age as well as written confirmation of physical fitness from a doctor in order to apply for working papers.

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

Minors in the Empire State deal with various restrictions on the number and time of permitted working hours. 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 14 year olds and jobs for 15 year olds in New York also require employees to work exclusively between 7:00am and 7:00pm, with at least one day off each week. During vacation periods, the maximum number of hours 14 and 15 year old employees may work 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 and up to eight hours daily on weekends and holidays, including Fridays, as long as the work takes place no earlier than 6:00 in the morning and no later than 10:00 at night. When school dismisses for the summer or other lengthy breaks, jobs for 16 year olds and jobs for 17 year olds in New York allow employees to work up to 8 hours a day and 48 hours per week. During the summer between June 21 and Labor Day, older minors in the Empire State may work as late as midnight. At no point in the year, however, may any underage employee 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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