New summer work rules for New Jersey teens

Do you remember your first summer job? I sure do. I was always a worker, so I had a few of them. I was cutting lawns, scooping ice cream and selling cars. Yes, selling cars. I was only 13, and at first, I was really nervous, but it was that nervous kind of excitement. Looking back, I know how invaluable the experiences were. They built my confidence, helped hone my skills talking to adults and instilled lessons like taking responsibility, following through on something important and giving it my all.

For thousands of hardworking New Jersey teens, the opportunity to work more and pump up their earnings this summer is now a reality. On July 5th, Governor Murphy signed a law which expands summer working hours for students ages 14 to 17. It’s now up to 50 hours a week for 16- and 17-year olds and up to 40 a week for 14- and 15-year olds.

I think this is good news for everyone. Seasonal businesses with teenage employees have a little more flexibility in scheduling, and some added capacity. That should reduce long waits at restaurants and other venues at the Jersey shore, where business is booming. For students, there is greater potential to save for college, help their families and build up their funds. And what teen doesn’t like more cash in their pocket . . . or on their smartphones?

Naturally some are concerned: students are worried they might lose jobs if they don’t work more hours and parents fear their children will be taken advantage of. That’s why understanding child labor laws is so important. The details are listed below. But first, a reminder.

All non-exempt employees—regardless of age—must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. This applies to seasonal teen workers. Remember that as of Labor Day, teens under age 18 are not permitted to exceed a 40-hour work week.

A cautionary tale

Employers can be held accountable if they violate the rules. Here’s a case in point.

A well-known submarine franchise was recently fined close to $25,000 for breaching federal child labor laws. In a number of states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the company scheduled 14- and 15-year-olds to work later than 9 pm during the summer. During the school year, they violated rules which restrict these teens to 3-hour shifts and to working no later than 7 pm on school nights.

New Jersey’s expanded summer work rules for teens 

  • Individuals who are 16- and 17-years-old are allowed to work 50 hours a week through Labor Day. That’s up from 40 a week.
  • Through summer’s end, these students can put in 10-hours in a day, replacing an 8-hour limit.
  • Teens who are 14 and 15 years old are now allowed to work 40 hours a week.
  • These younger teens are also allowed to work during the hours of 7 am until 9 pm during the summer.
  • Teens can work for 6 hours straight without a break, up from 5 hours.

A reminder about child labor laws for the school year

With the start of a new school year coming up, it’s important to remember the limits for students after Labor Day. Here are some of the work rules according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

14- and 15-year-olds can work no more than

  • 18 hours per week
  • 3 hours a day on school days
  • 8 hours a day on Saturday or Sunday
  • 6 consecutive days in a pay week
  • They also may not work before 7am or after 7pm except during school holidays.

16- and 17-year olds can work no more than

  • 40 hours per week
  • 8 hours a day
  • 6 consecutive days in a pay week
  • They also may not work before 6am or after 11pm on school days.
  • On Fridays and Saturdays or days not followed by a school day they can work until midnight.

Students participating in cooperative education or training site experiences

On any school day, training may not exceed 5 hours and the combination of school and work cannot exceed 8 hours.

While teenagers are vital to the New Jersey workforce, the rules around young workers can be confusing. If you struggle to keep up with ever-changing labor regulations at the federal, state and local level, an HR advisor like NEMR Total HR can make it easy for you. Chat with us or Email Us.