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Employment Lawyer Q&A: Can my Company employ minors during the summer?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgOur New Jersey Employment Law Attorneys lecture on legal do’s and don’ts and many employers make the mistake of not following law when hiring minors during the summer. Every state has its own requirements regarding when and how an employee who is under 18 years old may work. If you have any specific questions about your company, you should contact one of our lawyers because below is general information.

Minors can work in limited circumstances. In general, minors are permitted to be paid at least the minimum wage for the hours they work with many exceptions. The U.S. Department of Labor also permits stipends to be paid to workers as part of a bona fide training program or as a part of a bona fide student intern program. It is illegal to circumvent wage & hour laws by compensating young employees in a non-monetary fashion and labeling them as volunteers.

All minors in the state of New Jersey are required to receive an employment certificate or “working papers” from their school district. It is one of those few states that require a minor until his/her to be the age of 18 years of age to secure an employment certificate for each employer, rather than a single permit for all employers as in New York or Connecticut. In order for a minor to get working papers, he/she must have an employment signed by the prospective employer that sets out the specific nature of the work, hours and pay.

A minor’s age determines the type of work he or she may do:
1. Under age 11, minors may participate in theatrical productions.
2. At the age of 11, minors may do residential newspaper delivery.
3. At the age of 12, minors may do yard and farm work.
4. At the age of 14, minors may do the jobs listed above, as well as most standard office or clerical work, cashiering and sales, delivery other than with a motor vehicle, hospital and health agency jobs, restaurant work, professional assistants, and camp counseling. Minors of the age of 14 years may not work in jobs where it is required to use power machinery or are exposed to other hazardous conditions.
5. At the age of 16 years, minors may do the jobs listed above, plus some jobs involving machinery.

Minors are prohibited from working in construction or other dangerous occupations, with two exceptions:

1. Minors who are 14 through 17 years of age may volunteer to work for organizations engaged in the construction of affordable housing as determined by the State Commissioner of Labor. However, they may not come in contact with power-driven machinery, or work on any excavation, scaffolding, or roofing. They also cannot be exposed to hazardous substances. The nonprofit must secure liability insurance to compensate for all injuries and illnesses sustained by minors as a result of their participation in the construction.

2. Minors who are 12 through 17 years of age are permitted to work as volunteers at community operated noncommercial recycling centers but they cannot come in contact with hazardous machines or substances.

Under New Jersey state law, certain workplaces including nursing homes, professional offices, and libraries, are not required to pay minimum wage. However, jobs related to food service in any of these workplaces require minimum wage.


Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

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