The Minimum Legal Working Age in New York

What to Know Before Starting a Job Search

Volunteers planting a tree together
••• KidStock / Getty Images

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. 

How Old You Must Be to Work in New York

Both federal child labor laws and New York state law agree that the minimum age to work is 14 (with some exceptions). However, child labor laws in each state may also indicate the minimum age to work and which permits are needed. When there is a conflict between federal and state laws, the more stringent law will apply.

Children younger than 14 may work in some capacities, however. Child 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, as babysitters or on paper routes. That should be good news for tweens and children hoping to earn some extra cash.

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. 

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. 

What Hours Teens Can Work

Although teens ages 14-15 can work in a variety of jobs, including in offices, restaurants, grocery stores and hospitals, the hours they work are limited. Youth this age can't work more than three hours in a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day or 40 hours during a non-school week. 

Additionally, these teens must work hours that fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (except from June 1 through Labor Day, when working hours extend to 9 p.m.) 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. Neither group may work more than six days in a row. When school is out, older teens may work up to 48 hours between the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight (during the school year they work until 10 p.m.).  

Teens of all ages may not work in hazardous occupations that might cause serious bodily harm, death or adverse health effects.

For more information on the minimum age to work in New York and how to obtain employment certificates, visit the New York State Labor Website.