The Minimum Legal Working Age in New York

What to Know Before Starting a Job Search

Teen volunteers planting a tree together in New York
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If you live in New York and are considering getting your first job, you need to find out what the minimum legal working age in your state is. Are you eligible to work there? If so, you can start saving for school or college expenses, a vehicle, clothing or other items young people generally need. And don't forget to set aside some money to have fun, if possible. 

Jobs for Children in New York

Child labor laws in each state indicate the minimum age to work and which permits are needed for minors. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the more stringent law will apply. According to the New York State Department of Labor, the state has one of the more stringent child labor laws.

Both federal child labor laws and New York state law agree that the minimum age to work is 14 (with some exceptions). Children younger than 14 may work in some capacities such as performers and models. The labor laws do not restrict them from working on a family farm or in a family business. Young juveniles may also complete household chores or yard work (without power-driven tools) for pay or work in the entertainment industry. Other exceptions include working for pay as babysitters or on paper routes. That should be good news for tweens and children hoping to earn some extra cash.

Minors of all ages may not work in hazardous occupations that might cause serious bodily harm, death or adverse health effects. Before youth begin their jobs, it is important to review the rules and restrictions surrounding child labor laws, especially if they want to work in more official capacities as they age.

Students who work at the school, such as in the cafeteria workers can work during the lunch hours with a certificate. There are also federal regulations limiting hours for children aged 14 and 15 who work in interstate commerce.

What Hours Teens Can Work

The New York labor law separates requirements between working during school sessions and when they are out of session. During school sessions, teens ages 14-15 can't work more than three hours on a school day. They are limited to 18 hours in a school week and a maximum of eight hours on a Saturday or other school holiday. Teens ages 16-17 may work up to four hours on school days, eight hours on non-school days and 28 hours during school weeks. They may earn minimum wage or more, depending on the job.

When out of session, 14 and 15-year-old minors may work up to 40 hours a non-school week. Those aged 16 and 17 may have a 48 hour week. All minors may not work more than six days per week and eight hours per day.

Children enrolled in school or home-schooled can not work during normal public school hours. An exception is made for drop-outs and those who graduate before the age of 18.

Additionally, work hours must fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.—except from June 1 through Labor Day, when working hours extend to 9 p.m. Older children may work between the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight—during the school year they can work until 10 p.m.

Teens enrolled in Cooperative Education programs can work for a maximum of six hours on a day that falls before a scheduled school day. However, these hours must be part of the educational program.

Certificates for Work

New York state law requires child employment certificates for youth under age 18. Employment certificates are provided by the school for most juveniles, but child performers must go to the Labor Department for their certificates. In the Empire State, working papers are different colors based on the age group. Also, youth younger than 18 will be provided with an age certificate by request, however, it is not required under New York state law.