Some students who are of middle, and high school age wish to procure jobs as a way of entering their own independence, to financially assist their families, or to appeal to certain college scholarship programs. Students are permitted to obtain jobs while they attend school, however, laws have been erected to discourage a student’s job from interfering with their educational responsibilities.
Student’s under the legal age of 18 are permitted to work while they attend school. However, to procure employment, a valid employment certificate must be provided, and they may not exceed the number of work hours predetermined by law (§§ 3215-3228; Lab. Law § 132). In addition, students may not work during the hours in which they are required to attend school, unless they work in the school cafeteria during the lunch period at the school they attend (§3215(c)).
To ensure that students are of the proper age to both work and attend school, they must first meet minimum age requirements predetermined for particular jobs and employment certificates. For example, students must be at least 11 years of age to work as a newspaper carrier (§3228), while they must be at least 14 to work on a farm (§3226), unless their parents or guardians operate the farm, in this case, the minimum age is reduced to 12 (§§ 3215(e), 3226)).
Employment certificates are divided into two age brackets; 14-15, and 16-17.
For students aged 14 to 15, there are many restrictions. Students that fall within this bracket may not work:
However, students who fall within the age bracket of 16-17 have more leeway, and receive more provisions under student employment laws. Student aged 16-17 may not work:
Also noted, is that a 17-year-old student working at a summer camp as a counselor, junior counselor or counselor in training through summer months does not experience any limits on his or her work provisions (Lab. Law § 143).
It is the responsibility of the school districts to ensure that students receive the proper work permits to gain employment, as these work certificates are issued by the superintendent of schools, or his or her designee. In the case of New York City, permits are issued by the chancellor or his or her designee.
To ensure students can maintain employment while sufficiently performing in school, they must submit proof of their age, a parent’s consent, and a certification of physical fitness (§3217). Once a proper work permit has been attained, this permit is dependent on the student ability to keep his or her grades up. If a student fails four or more courses in a semester, the work permit will more than likely be revoked (§ 3215-a). The purpose of this is to ensure that the importance of a student’s job does not supersede his or her academics.
Child performers are still protected by child labor laws, and because they do not attend a job with set hours on a regular basis, does not make them exempt from work limits. For child performers, or child actors, work permits are issued by the NYS Department of Labor, rather than the school superintendent, and these permits remain valid for a period of one year (Lab. Law §151(b); Arts and Cult. Affairs Law § 35.01). After the one-year period, a child performer, or his or her parents, must show proof that he or she is receiving the required educational instruction while performing, and is maintaining satisfactory performance (Lab. Law §§ 151, 152).
Lastly, it is important to know that without a valid work permit, students are not legally permitted work. With the exception of babysitting, working as a caddy at a golf course, shoveling snow, mowing lawns, or other forms of so-called casual employment (§3215(4); Lab. Law § 131(3)(a); 8 NYCRR § 191.1), it is illegal for businesses to hire students under the age of 17 without a work permit (§3215(2),(3); Provoncha v. Anytime Home Care, Inc., 15 A.D.3d 770 (3d Dep’t), Iv. to app. denied, 4 N.Y.3d. 882 (2005); Robles v. Mossgood Theatre-Saunders Realty, 53 A.D.2d 972 (3d Dep’t 1976)).
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