Hiring Minors to Work in New Jersey
Employers who hire teenagers under 18 years of age and fail to comply with child labor laws and regulations put their business and employees at risk. Employers who violate child labor laws may be convicted and fined thousands of dollars.
Throughout the year 2011, the New Jersey Department of Labor cited more than 300 businesses for violating child-labor laws and assessed nearly $588,000 in fines.
Recently, a number of large and small companies have been fined thousands of dollars for violating federal child labor laws. Among them:
- Three retailers at the Jersey Gardens Mall in New Jersey (Cold Stone Creamery, Tommy Hilfiger, and Mr. Smoothie) were fined $21,000 for violating federal child labor laws (May 2012).
- A farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, was fined $28,000 for violating federal child labor laws (June 2011).
- CVS, the nationwide drug store chain, including those in New Jersey, was fined $226,000, for violating federal child labor laws (December 2007).
New Jersey employers who wish to avoid paying fines would do well to be familiar with state and federal laws and regulations affecting their business, including child labor laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor and the New Jersey Department of Labor.
Before the minor begins working, the minor must obtain an employment certificate (“working papers”). The employment certificate is issued from the school district where the minor attends school. The first step to obtaining the employment certificate is to complete the New Jersey A300 Combined Certification Form.
Note: Employers cannot accept “old” working papers — all minors must obtain new working papers for each new job until she reaches the age of 18.
To read guidelines on completing the A300 certification form, the New Jersey Department of Education has published a helpful Working Papers Handbook.
Employers in New Jersey are required to conspicuously post a Schedule of Hours that contain the name of the minor, the schedule of hours, clock in and clock out, meal times, and total hours worked and total hours allowed. A sample Schedule of Hours is provided by the NJ DOL.
Employers in New Jersey are also required to conspicuously post the New Jersey Child Labor Law Abstract, which provides important information such the maximum number of hours a minor under 18-years old may work and the jobs that they cannot perform.
For example, if the work-site is a bakery, a 15-year old may not be permitted to use the bread slicer. If the work-site is a grocery store, a minor may not be permitted to use the baler. Employers should also know that minors under 18-years old cannot work more than 8 hours a day, or 40 hours a week. Furthermore, employers are required to give employees under 18-years old a 30 minute meal period after working five hours in a row.
As of February 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued more than 15 fact sheets advising employers what they need to know when employing minors. Some of these facts sheets apply to all employers, regardless of industry. One such fact sheet applicable to all industries discuss restrictions on 16- and 17-year old minors driving on the job. See this unnumbered Fact Sheet and Fact Sheet #34.
Many of the fact sheets issued by the U.S. DOL are industry specific:
- Fact Sheet #2A: Child Labor Rules for Employing Youth in Restaurants and Quick-Service Establishments Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Fact Sheet #37: Application of the Federal Child Labor Provisions to Amusement Parks and Recreation Establishments under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Fact Sheet #38: Child Labor Rules for Employing Youth in Grocery Stores under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Fact Sheet #40: Federal Youth Employment Laws in Farm Jobs
- Fact Sheet #41: Fast Food, Full Service Restaurant, and Supermarket Industries Youth Employment Compliance Survey
- Fact Sheet #43: Youth Employment Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Nonagricultural Occupations
- Fact Sheet #52: The Employment of Youth in the Health Care Industry
- Fact Sheet #55: Application of the Federal Child Labor Provisions to the Employment of Minors Who Are Exempt from Compulsory School Attendance in Businesses Where Machines Process Wood Products
- Fact Sheet #57: Hazardous Occupations Order No. 12 Rules for Employing Youth and the Loading, Operating, and Unloading of Power-Driven Scrap Paper Balers and Paper Box Compactors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Fact Sheet #58: Cooking and Baking under the Federal Child Labor Provisions of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Fact Sheet #60: Application of the Federal Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to the Employment of Lifeguards
- Fact Sheet #74: The Employment of Youth in Roofing Occupations and On Roofs under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Fact Sheet #75: Youth Peddling under the Federal Child Labor Provisions of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The New Jersey Department of Labor also provides a number of posters and abstracts that employers in specific industries may be required to post.
Investigating violations of child labor laws is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Labor and the New Jersey Department of Labor. Employers who ignore child labor laws risk criminal charges and thousands of dollars in fines.