Hiring a Minor for Summer Employment

Before You Go

As the warmer weather quickly approaches, many businesses will look to hire help to fill employment needs during the busy summer months. Companies will often turn to minors during this time of year for a variety of reasons. However, there are specific laws and rules that businesses need to comply with in New Jersey that differ from hiring individuals who are 18 years of age and older.

“Companies that look to hire minors in the summer often experience an influx in business during that time,” says Gregg Salka, labor and employment law associate at Fisher & Phillips LLP, based out of Murray Hill. “These areas include restaurants, retail stores, summer camps, landscaping and delivery jobs, among others. When hiring minors, there are certain rules that businesses need to follow, depending on age, the industry and the field they work in, and the time of year they are being hired.”

Salka says that it starts with proper record keeping and documentation, which varies from hiring a legal adult.

“Employers must obtain a physical Social Security card, a photo ID and an employment certificate – otherwise known as ‘working papers’ – which minors can obtain from their local school district,” he says. “They must also receive permission and a signature from a parent or legal guardian and a physical from their doctor. Having the right documentation is important, because if you get audited as a business, one of the first questions the auditor will ask is, ‘Do you have minors working here?’ And if so, they will want to see all the documentation. If you don’t have it, you will face substantial fines.”

Businesses also need to take into account age restrictions, as well as hourly, daily and weekly restrictions.

“The minimum age for minors to work in New Jersey is 14,” Salka says. “However, there are certain fields that minors under 14 years of age can work in with a special permit. For example, for farming and agricultural work, the minimum age is 12. For a newspaper carrier, the minimum age is 11. In theater or film work, there is no minimum age. Additionally, no individual under 18 years old can work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. There are also certain restrictions when school is in session, but during summer months, minors can work later hours.”

Additionally, there are limitations as to what jobs minors should not be performing.

“Minors should not be operating heavy machinery and those under 16 years old should not be operating a lawn mower,” Salka says. “If you are in violation of this as a business, not only can you be fined, but you can be convicted, criminally, as well.”

Salka says that a best practice when hiring a minor is to consult the New Jersey Child Labor Law Abstract and even a lawyer if uncertainty remains.

“As a business hiring a minor in the summer months, you want to make sure you are doing everything by the book,” he concludes. “It is better to be safe than sorry.”


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