For Employers of Workers Under 18
The Child Labor Law protects minors by limiting the number of hours they can work, and imposing restrictions on the types of work they can perform. Among other requirements, the law stipulates that:
- All minors working in NJ must have an employment certificate, also known as "working papers," or a special permit (see below) for each
- All minors must be given a 30-minute meal break after 6 continuous hours of work. Breaks less than 30 minutes do not count as an interruption of continuous work.
- Minors may not work more than 6 consecutive days in a week.
- Workers under 16 may not work more than 40 hours a week and 8 hours a day, with certain exceptions for agricultural work.
- During the school year, minors under 16 may only work outside of scheduled school hours.
- Workers 16 and up may work up to 50 hours in one week and up to 10 hours a day only between the last day of school and Labor Day.
Workers under 18 are entitled to minimum wage in the following jobs:
- Food service (restaurant)
- Beauty culture
- Light manufacturing apparel
- First processing of farm products
Certain types of employers are not required to pay minors minimum wage. For more information, read the law here.
Please refer to New Jersey's Minimum Wage Chart for scheduled increases but note that the chart only shows the statutorily planned increases. Actual increases may differ based on inflation or if the federal government decides to increase the federal minimum wage beyond the state’s minimum wage or both.
Minors under 16 are may not be allowed to work more than 40 hours per week, except in agriculture where minors 12 through 17 can work up to 10 hours a day.
Between the last day of the school year and Labor Day, only minors 16 and up can work up to 50 hours in one week and up to 10 hours a day. Except in agriculture where minors 12 through 17 can also work up to 10 hours a day.
Workers ages 16 and 17 are only eligible for overtime rate in the following jobs:
- First processing of farm products
- Seasonal amusements
- Hotel and motels
In any other job, employers can require workers ages 16 and 17 to work up to 50 hours per week but, under NJ law, those employers are not required to pay those workers 1 ½ times their regular hourly wage for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week. However, they could be required to do so under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Information on rights under the FLSA can be found here.
Since October 29, 2018, the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law allows employees to collect 1 hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours each year. The law permits employers to create policies that provide additional leave time.
The Office of Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (OPEOSH) conducts general and targeted inspections and investigations to ensure workplace safety. The OPEOSH has the authority to order the correction of any safety or health hazards identified during an inspection. These services are delivered by a staff of safety professionals. Click here to learn more.
Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health On-Site Consultation program provides free On-Site Safety and Health Consultation services to both public and private sector employers to help you provide a safe environment for your employees.
If you are a public sector employer, click here to learn more.
If you are a private sector employer, click here to learn more.
New Jersey law requires that all New Jersey employers, not covered by Federal programs, have Workers’ Compensation coverage, or be approved for self-insurance. Even out-of-state employers may need Workers’ Compensation coverage if a contract of employment is entered into in New Jersey or if work is performed in New Jersey.
If a minor is employed illegally, they may be entitled to extra benefits depending on the circumstances. These are extra benefits that are not available to adult employees.
If an employer forces a minor to work in an unsafe and illegal environment, the minor will be entitled to twice the amount of worker's compensation benefits. The employer will pay this penalty, not their workers’ compensation insurance provider.
If the injured minor was employed in violation of child labor laws, they can also bring a civil suit in Superior Court against their employer. A civil suit may recover compensation beyond that which is available under a workers’ compensation claim. Some examples are compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Learn more about employer Workers’ Compensation responsibilities here.
Below are lists of permitted occupations for minors. This list is not comprehensive. The opportunities are subject to non-performance of dangerous activities and illegal jobs.
At 12 years old, a minor may engage in the following work:
- Newspaper delivery over residential routes. (May start at 11 years of age)
- Farming in all of its branches
- Nursery work
- Raising of livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals or poultry
- Theatrical productions (no minimum age limit)
At 14 years old, a minor may engage in the following work:
- Clerical and office jobs in industrial wholesale, retail, service, and professional establishments
- Hotel jobs
- Sales persons
- Delivery jobs other than with a motor vehicle
- Newspaper and magazine delivery over non-residential routes
- Restaurant jobs
- Soda fountain jobs
- Mercantile store jobs
- Supermarket and food store jobs
- Amusement industry jobs
- Standard office type machine operators
- Standard domestic type machine operators
- Hospital and health agency jobs
- Library attendants
- Professional assistants
- Counselors at camps, beach attendants, lifeguards, caddies, pinsetters
- Domestic helpers, maids, cooks, cleaners, baby-sitters, janitors
- Singers, models, entertainers, dancers, and theatrical work
- All jobs listed for 12-year-olds (as mentioned in the above section), and many other jobs
At 16 years old, a minor may engage in the following work:
- Factory machine operators *
- Power lawn mower operators
- Power tool operators *
- Tractor operators
- Machinery operators *
- Mechanic jobs
- All jobs listed for 12- and 14-year-olds, and most other jobs
* Except those specifically prohibited
The lists below are not comprehensive.
Note: the work accident rate incidence is twice the average for workers under 18. If you have a question about a specific occupation, call the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance at (609) 292-2305.
- Paints, colors, white and red lead (manufacture and packing only)
- Dangerous or poisonous acids and dyes
- Injurious quantities of toxic or noxious dust, gases, vapors, or fumes
- Benzol or any benzol compound which is volatile, or which can penetrate the skin
- Explosives (manufacture, transportation or use only)
- Toxic and hazardous substances
- Radioactive substances and ionizing radiation
- Carcinogenic substances
- Corrosive materials
- Highly inflammable substances
- Power-driven woodworking machinery (supervised bona-fide apprentices may do this work)
- Grinding, abrasive, polishing, or buffing machines
- Punch presses and stamping machines with over 1/4 inch clearance
- Guillotine action cutting machines
- Corrugating, crimping, or embossing machines
- Paper lace machines
- Dough brakes or mixing machines in bakeries or cracker machinery
- Calendar rolls or mixing rolls in rubber manufacturing
- Centrifugal extractors or mangles in laundries or dry-cleaning establishments
- Operation or repair of elevators or other hoisting apparatus (they may operate the push button type)
- Corn pickers, power-driven hay balers, or power field choppers
- Circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears
- Minors under 16 may use standard domestic type machines or appliances, standard office machines, standard types of poultry feeders, egg graders, egg washers, egg coolers, and milking machines but may not use other power-driven machinery such as power tools, power lawn mowers, power woodworking and metal worker tools and power-driven meat slicing and meat grinding machines or conveyors
- Ore reduction works, smelters, hot rolling mills, furnaces, foundries, forging shops or any other place in which the heating, melting, or heat treatment of metals is carried on
- Mines and quarries
- Establishments where alcoholic liquors are distilled, rectified, compounded, brewed, manufactured, bottled, or sold for consumption on the premises *
- Pool and billiard rooms
- Junk and scrap metal yards
- Disorderly houses
* See Child Labor Law for exceptions
- Oiling, wiping, or cleaning machinery in motion or assisting therein
- Steam boilers carrying a pressure above 15 pounds
- Construction work
- Fabrication or assembly of ships
- Transportation of payrolls off the employer's premises
- Demolition of buildings, ships, or heavy machinery
- Indecent of immoral exposure
- Most occupations in slaughtering, meat packing, processing, or rendering
During the school year, 15-year-old Charlie works as a dishwasher at a sandwich store. Charlie is paid minimum wage and works from 8AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Charlie’s manager wants to train him to make food in the kitchen. Due to his age, Charlie cannot operate the meat slicer, baking bread, work in the freezer, or operate grills. Instead, he does kitchen work like making and packaging sandwiches. He also operates toasters, milk shake blenders, warming lamps and coffee grinders. Charlie is also trained to operate the cash register, and in customer service.
Example 1: Luis is 16 and aspires to start his own landscaping business. Over the summer, he finds a full-time seasonal position on a lawn maintenance crew. Luis receives minimum wage and works from 9AM-4PM on weekdays. Luis cannot use pesticides, chipper machines, and chain saws, but he uses power lawn mowers, weed whackers, backpack blowers. He digs, removes and levels out stone, lays blocks for patios and retaining walls, as well as plants flowers and shrubs.
Example 2: Alexa is 17 and was accepted to an Industrial Mechanic Apprenticeship at a local university. As she is working as an apprentice, she may operate machines otherwise not allowed for minors under supervision. She maintains and repairs power transmission components, electrical motors, commercial mechatronic equipment, and system components. She is learning welding and cutting techniques but does not operate any hosting apparatus. She always wears protective gear while doing this task. Tasks she may perform in this area also include hand polishing and hand sanding.