Know the Law: Rules for Young Workers

Photo of Jacqueline Leary
Jacqueline A. Leary
Associate, Litigation Department
Published: Union Leader
April 22, 2018
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Q: I am preparing to hire summer help. I want to hire Bill, a high school student whom I believe is under the age of 16. What do I have to do?

A: First, you must determine Bill’s age. If Bill is under 16, you must file a Youth Employment Certificate (“working papers”) with your place of business within three days of his first day of employment. Working papers are not required if Bill is working for his parents, grandparents, or guardian; is working as a farm laborer; or performing “casual” work (employment of no more than three calendar days for any one employer).

You must also complete an Employer’s Request for Child Labor and give it to Bill to bring to his school. After determining that Bill has satisfied his academic performance requirements, his principal, other authorized individual, or parent or legal guardian may issue the working papers. If Bill is 16 or 17 years old, only written permission by a parent or guardian is needed.

The next step is to monitor carefully Bill’s working hours, which must be limited as follows:

• If Bill is between 12 and 15 years old, he cannot work during school hours, before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m., more than three hours per day on school days, more than eight hours per day on nonschool days, more than 23 hours per week during school weeks, or more than 48 hours per week during nonschool weeks.

• If Bill is between 16 and 17 years old and is enrolled in school (including home schooled), he cannot work more than six consecutive days nor more than 30 hours per school week; more than six consecutive days nor more than 48 hours per week during school vacation weeks or summer vacation (June 1 through Labor Day), more than 10 hours per day in manufacturing, more than 10¼ hours per day in manual or mechanical labor, more than eight hours per night.

• If Bill is between 16 and 17 years old and is not enrolled in school, he cannot work: more than 10 hours per day nor more than 48 hours per week at manual or mechanical labor in a manufacturing establishment, more than 10¼ hours per day nor more than 54 hours per week at manual or mechanical labor in any other employment that is not exempt by statute, and night work is restricted to no more than eight hours in any 24 hours or more than 48 hours per week.

A violation of New Hampshire youth employment laws can include a misdemeanor offense and may include a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500 for each violation. This does not address compliance with federal law.

Know the Law is a bi-weekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton, Professional Association. We invite your questions of business law. Questions and ideas for future columns should be addressed to: McLane Middleton, 900 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101 or emailed to [email protected]. Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.