Teen helping customer check-out at business

Know Your Rights

Protections and rules for young people in the workplace

Getting your first job is a huge milestone and it comes with some key perks, like a paycheck and the ability to build essential skills like responsibility and commitment. No matter the type of work you’re doing, your first job comes with another important element: workplace rights. 

Regardless of age, you’re entitled to several fundamental rights as an employee.


Working Hours

For teenagers, the hours you can work depends on the type of work and whether you’re attending school. If school is in session, the number of hours you can work is limited. Minors of any age can’t work during school hours unless they have graduated or withdrawn from school. Your employer must post a schedule where you can see it.

During weeks when school is in session, 14- and 15-years-olds can’t work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.  You are limited to the following hours in most occupations:

-3 hours on any school day
-8 hours on a Saturday or a non-school day
-18 hours in any week
-6 days in any week

There are exceptions for babysitters, farm laborers, newspaper carriers, performers, and models.
When school is NOT in session, and during vacations, 14- and 15-year-olds can’t work between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. or more than 40 hours a week.

When school is in session, 16- and 17-year-olds are limited to the following hours:

- 4 hours preceding school days (Mon. to Thurs.)
- 8 hours (Fri. to Sun. & holidays)
- 28 hours in any week
- 6 days in any week

If you want to work between 10 p.m. and midnight on a day before school, you need written permission from a parent or guardian and a certificate of satisfactory academic standing from their school.
When school is not in session, and during vacations, 16- and 17-year-olds can’t work more than 48 hours or between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. If you work 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.

Working Papers
If you are 14 to 17-years-old, you will need working papers to hold a job in New York State. The type of working papers you need will depend on your age and the kind of work you’ll be doing. Working papers are typically available at your school’s guidance office. You will need to have had a doctor’s exam within the last 12 months and a government-issued photo ID to get working papers.
Dangerous Jobs
There are many jobs that state and federal regulations prohibit minors from working due to how dangerous they are. They include jobs that require the operation of heavy machinery, positions in factories, and more. If you are injured or become ill as a direct result of your job, you can file a Worker’s Compensation Claim. For a complete list of prohibited jobs, see the links below:
Quick Tips
For Success At Your First job 
Young People Working


1. Be on time. Punctuality is important when people are counting on you.
2. Dress appropriately. Make sure your uniform is clean and not wrinkled. If there is no uniform, follow the employee dress code. 
3. Be social media conscious. When you interview for a job, your potential employer may look at your social media accounts. Make sure there isn’t anything on your accounts that could jeopardize your new job. Also, do not blast work drama on social media.
4. Seize the opportunity to build your skills. Your first job may not be your dream job, but it likely offers a chance to build essential “soft skills” that will be useful in many facets of your life. These skills include teamwork, leadership, communication, interpersonal, problem solving, and work ethic.



Quick Tips
For Dealing with Workplace Issues
Four young adults sit on a beach and enjoy a nice view

1. Talk to your boss. If you are unable to find a resolution by talking to a coworker, you can seek help from a supervisor or human resources. Before you approach your boss, determine exactly what you would like for your boss to do. Be prepared to offer specific solutions or requests as to how your boss can remedy the situation.
2. Talk to an adult. If you’re being harassed by a supervisor or asked to do dangerous tasks, it’s ok to talk to your parents, a guidance counselor, or any adult who can give advice or advocate on your behalf. 
3. It’s ok to walk away. If a job is simply not a good fit for you, there's nothing wrong with moving on—just be sure to have a back-up plan.
4. File a complaint. If you have an issue related to unpaid wages, you have the right to file a Labor Standards Complaint Form. If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you have the right to file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights.


Child Labor Complaint Form