The law that governs the hiring and work hours of minors is changing on June 1, 2023. This Fast Fact discusses both the current law and the changes that will be implemented later in the year.
Before minors begin working, they must have an employment certificate (“working papers.”) The minor gets this by filling out the A300 employment certification form online or from the issuing officer of the local school district where the minor lives. If the minor is not a New Jersey resident, the paper can come from the district where the employer is located.
The employer is responsible for completing the employment information section of the form which includes the name and address of the business, the type of business, the specific job title or duties that will be held by the minor, the minor’s hourly rate, whether the business is licensed for liquor, etc. The employer must also sign and date the Promise of Employment.
The minor then must have a physical or obtain a doctor’s note. The school district is responsible for performing the physical examination at no cost to the minor and verifying the minor’s age. Both are indicated on the employment certification form, as is parent/guardian permission that the minor can work. Once the form is fully completed, it is reviewed by the school’s issuing officer and an employment certificate or “working papers” are issued.
Beginning June 1, 2023, minors will no longer be required to go through the working papers process outlined above. As a result of P.L.2022,c.63, enacted in July 2022, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development must create a centralized database where minors will complete a one-time registration authorizing them to work in New Jersey. Employers are required to register with the department.
— Background —
Under New Jersey’s Child Labor Law, N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.1 et seq., at the age of 14, children can begin working in most workplaces like offices, stores, and restaurants (with some commonsense exclusions for prisons, mines/quarries, jobs involving chemicals, jobs operating heavy machinery, and those serving alcohol, etc.). At 16, the list of permitted occupations grows to include operating power-driven machinery such as lawn mowers. Once a child reaches the age of 18, they are considered an adult and have the option of doing virtually any job.
Employers have certain obligations and restrictions when employing minors that they don’t have with adults. For instance, while New Jersey does not have a mandatory break law for adult workers, it does require that employers provide minors with a 30-minute meal break after six hours of work. Additionally, minors under the age of 16 can’t work more than three hours a day during school days, and more than 18 hours a week on school weeks.
In July 2022, Governor Murphy signed P.L.2022, c.63 into law, making permanent a pandemic-era expansion of working hours for some teenagers. Under the law, minors ages 14-15 can work for a maximum of 40 hours per week and minors 16-17 for up to 50 hours per week and 10 hours per day during the summer months.
P.L. 2022, c.63 also removes parental consent for minors to work, but requires the Department of Labor to provide parents with an opt-out for extended summer working hours if they do not want their minor child to work the seasonally expanded hours.
Generally, the New Jersey law falls in line with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, but where there is a conflict, the more restrictive law applies.