What Are My Company’s Obligations In New York Regarding Child Labor?

What Are My Company’s Obligations In New York Regarding Child Labor?

In New York State, the employment of minors is governed by Article 4 of the New York Labor Law and by scattered sections of other state statutes.  A "minor" is any person less than 18 years of age.

In brief, New York's laws governing child labor require a minor to have working papers; prohibit companies from employing minors in certain jobs; and limit the hours for or during which a company may allow minors to work.

A Minor Must Have Working Papers

An employment certificate, or "working papers," is required for all minors before they start work.

Occupations In Which Companies May Not Employ Minors

Minors who are less than 14 years of age may not work at all, with certain specified exceptions.  Minors under 14 may work as child performers or child models.  Minors who are at least 11 may work as newspaper carriers.

When instruction (that is, school) is not required by the New York Education Law, minors who are 12 or 13 may do outdoor work, not connected to a business, for their parents; and may work as bridge caddies at bridge tournaments.  When school is not in session, minors who are 12 or 13 may assist their relatives in selling their family farm's produce.

Minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may work in stores and offices and other places, but not in factories.  They may do delivery or clerical work in a factory's office which is enclosed and separate from the manufacturing area, and in dry cleaning stores, tailor shops, shoe-repair shops and similar stores.

Further, minors who are 14 or 15 years old may mow lawns, do yard work, and perform other household chores, provided that they do not use power-driven machinery.  They may not perform factory work, or operate washing, grinding, cutting, slicing, pressing or mixing machinery, or do painting or exterior cleaning in connection with the maintenance of a building or structure.  Further, they may not work in state-run facilities for the mentally ill or the mentally disabled.

Minors who are 16 or 17 years of age may do factory work.

However, all minors - that is, all persons under 18 years of age - are prohibited from doing certain dangerous or age-inappropriate work such as working in construction; logging; working in a slaughter and meat-packing plant; operating an elevator, steam boilers, circular saws, or certain power-driven machines; making, packaging, or storing explosives; manufacturing brick or tile; doing any work involving exposure to radiation; guarding inmates in prisons; serving as a helper on a motor vehicle; or working in a strip club.  The law makes exceptions for certain minors who are apprentices, student-learners, or trainees.

Hours Of Work Of Minors

Article 4 of the New York Labor Law limits the number of hours which a company may permit a minor to work in a day or in a week.  When school is in session, minors who are 14 or 15 years of age may work up to three hours on a school day, up to eight hours on a non-school day, as much as 18 hours a week, and as much as six days a week.

Also when school is in session, minors who are 14 or 15 years old may not work before 7:00 A.M. or after 7:00 P.M.

The laws restricting the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds are moderately more permissive when school is not in session.  See N.Y. Labor Law § 142(2).

When school is in session, minors who are 16 or 17 years of age may work up to four hours on any day preceding a school day, other than Sunday or a holiday; up to eight hours on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or holiday; as much as 28 hours a week; and as much as six days a week.

Also when school is in session, minors who are 16 or 17 years old may not work later than 10:00 P.M. on any day preceding a school day.  The exception to this law is that 16- or 17-year olds may work as late as 12:00 midnight on a day preceding a school day provided that the employer receives and maintains both (i) the minor's parent's written consent and (ii), at the end of each marking period, a certificate issued by the minor's school stating that the minor is in satisfactory academic standing.

Again, when school is in session, minors who are 16 or 17 years old may not work before 6:00 A.M. or after 10:00 P.M. on any night preceding a non-school day except that, if the employer receives and maintains the minor's parent's written consent, the 16- or 17-year old may work until 12:00 midnight.

As with the laws limiting the hours of work of 14- and 15-year-olds, the laws governing the hours of work of 16- and 17-year olds are somewhat more permissive when school is not in session.  See N.Y. Labor Law § 143(2).

Employers in New York must write up, and post conspicuously in the workplace, a schedule of hours of work for all minors employed by the employer.   

Criminal And Civil Penalties For Unlawfully Employing Minors

If the New York State Commissioner of Labor finds that an employer has violated state child labor laws, the Commissioner may fine the employer up to $1,000 for the first such violation, up to $2,000 for a second violation, and not more than $3,000 for a third violation.

Further, any person who knowingly violates New York State child labor laws, and any officer or agent of a corporation who knowingly allows the corporation to violate such laws, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  Upon conviction of the misdemeanor of violating New York child labor laws, the offender will, for a first offense, be fined not more than $500 or jailed for not more than 60 days or both.

Again, on being criminally convicted of violating New York child labor laws, the offender will, for a second offense, be fined not more than $5,000 or jailed for not more than one year or both.

Conclusion

To sum up, before a business in New York hires or retains persons under 18 years of age, the business should consult with an experienced employment attorney.

Call the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC at (212) 209-3972 to confer with a knowledgeable labor and employment attorney about assuring your company's compliance with wage and hour laws, or to retain a skilled employment attorney to defend your company in a wage and hour lawsuit.

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