What you should know about working teens
The school year is wrapping up in districts throughout the state, and a good number of New Jersey teenagers will be taking on employment during the summer months.
But, by law, minors have certain employment rules that don't apply to a company's older workers. Knowing these rules is important for employers, parents and the young workers themselves.
Restrictions vary among the different ages of minors and types of employment.
General employment - such as retail and office work, gas stations and bowling alleys - are off-limits to anyone under 14 years of age.
During summer vacation from school, 14 and 15-year-olds can work no longer than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, according to the New Jersey Child Labor Law Abstract, which must be "posted in a conspicuous place" at businesses. However, their work day may start no earlier than 7 a.m., and only with written permission can their work day end at 9 p.m., two hours beyond the normal 7 p.m. limit.
For the most part, older minors, at 16 and 17 years old, can spread their hours between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
"There also has to be a break," said labor lawyer Gregg Salka of Fisher & Phillips in Murray Hill. "They can't work for more than 5 hours without having a 30-minute lunch period."
Exceptions are made for jobs related to agriculture, theater and the newspaper business. All of the rules, and there are many, are explained in the abstract.
Minors are prohibited from certain occupations altogether, usually due to the dangerous equipment involved.
Salka said some parents may not be aware that their children need "working papers" before employment can begin. According to the state, these papers are "secured from the issuing officer of the school district where a minor resides." Salka said employers need to obtain these documents, including proof of age, beforehand.
According to a summer jobs outlook from the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University, the employment rate for teenagers this summer is predicted to reach 29.8 percent, about two points higher than last summer, but seven points lower than 2006.