When a Minor Can Work
The hours that minors can work depend on age, the type of work, and whether the minor is attending school. New York State has one of the strictest child labor laws in the country. The law limits the number of hours that minors under 18 may work when school is in session. To work between 10 PM and midnight on a day before a school day, 16- and 17-year-olds need written permission from a parent or guardian and a certificate of satisfactory academic standing from their school.
Minors of any age may not work during school hours, unless they have graduated or withdrawn from school. Home-schooled children may not work during the hours of the local public school.
During weeks when school is in session, minors 14- and 15-years-old are limited to the following hours in most occupations:
More than 3 hours on any school day
More than 8 hours on a Saturday or a non-school day
More than 18 hours in any week
More than 6 days in any week
The law makes exceptions for:
Bridge caddies at bridge tournaments
Students enrolled in an approved Cooperative Education Program may work up to 6 hours the day before a school day, as long as the hours are part of the program. Include any hours worked in such program when figuring out hours worked for the 4 hour maximum.
When school is not in session, and during vacations (school must close for the entire calendar week):
- Minors under 18 may not work more than 8 hours a day, 6 days a week
- Minors 14 and 15 may not work more than 40 hours a week
- 16 and 17 year-olds may not work more than 48 hours a week
Federal legislation limits the work of 14 and 15 year-olds in firms engaged in interstate commerce to:
- A maximum 3-hour day and 18-hour week when school is in session
- An 8-hour day and 40-hour week when school is not in session (School must close for the entire calendar week.)
In school cafeterias, a minor with an employment certificate may work during the lunch period at the school he or she attends.
12 and 13 year-olds who have farm work permits to pick berries, fruits, or vegetables may not work:
- More than 4 hours per day
- Before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
- When school is in session from the day after Labor Day to June 20
- From June 21 to Labor Day, they may work 4 hours per day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- There are no hour regulations for farm work that apply to minors 14 years of age or older (See footnote 2 on Permitted Working Hours Chart)
If a minor works in two or more places in the same day or week, then the total time of work may not exceed the daily or weekly maximum.
Night Work Restrictions
The law prohibits minors from working before or after certain hours, depending on their age and job.
Minors under 16 may not work:
- Between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. in most jobs after Labor Day to June 20
- Between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. from June 21 to Labor Day
Newspaper carriers may not work between 7 p.m. (or 30 minutes prior to sunset, whichever is later) and 5 a.m.
Minors engaged in street trades may not work between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Minors 16 and 17 years old may not work between midnight and 6 a.m. when school is not in session. To work between 10 p.m. and midnight on a day before a school day, 16- and 17-year olds need written permission from a parent or guardian and a certificate of satisfactory academic standing from their school.
The employer must make a schedule for all minors and post it where workers can see it. The schedule shows the hours minors start and end work and time allotted for meals.
The employer can change the hours of work, as long as they post the changes on the schedule. Minors may work only on the days and at the times posted on the schedule. If minors are present at other times or if there is no posted schedule, it is a violation of the child labor law.