• Shannon Phillips

New York State Labor Laws for Teens

Many teenagers are eager to work part-time while going to school. Minors as young as age 11 can work legally in New York State under certain conditions. However, there are restrictions that can make it difficult for a teen to find a part-time job, especially while school is in session.


If you are 14 or 15, New York Labor Law restrictions will most likely prevent you from getting a job. Employers are reluctant to hire people who can only work three hours on school days. Most of them also need employees who can stay past 7:00pm. Here is the breakdown of allowances for minors ages 14 and 15 in New York State:

For all occupations except farm work, newspaper carrier, and street trades (like selling newspapers or shining shoes), 14 and 15 year olds may work a maximum of 18 hours per week spanning no more than 6 days. As previously stated, they may work 3 hours on school days between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm. On weekends and holidays (non-school days) 14 and 15 year olds can work up to 8 hours between 7:00am and 7:00pm daily.


If you are 16 or 17 years old and attending school, there are fewer restrictions. Greater availability leads to more opportunities for employment. The expanded allowances are listed here:

For all occupations except farm work, newspaper carrier, and street trades (like selling newspapers or shining shoes), 16 and 17 year olds may work a maximum of 28 hours per week spanning no more than 6 days. They may work 4 hours on days preceding school days (Monday-Thursday) and 8 hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00pm.


Newspaper carriers, ages 11-18, have the most flexible working hours. In this trade, minors may work 4 hours on school days and 5 hours on other days between the hours of 5:00am and 7:00pm or 30 minutes prior to sunset, whichever is later. Youth ages 14-18 working in street trades, which are virtually non-existent in Cortland County, may work 4 hours on school days and 5 hours on other days between the hours of 5:00am and 7:00pm.


Young job-seekers should keep in mind that the reason they aren’t getting called for interviews may simply be because employers need employees with greater flexibility than the law provides, especially for younger teens. If you can’t find a job, spend some time volunteering and participating in activities you enjoy. Being involved with the community builds strong references that you can use in the future and shows employers that you have ambition and the ability to work with others. Both of these will help in future job searches. If you have questions about laws governing the employment of minors or about employment in general, please contact your local career center.

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