July 10, 2022
Beginning immediately, teenagers in New Jersey can work more hours during the summer, as Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill to expand working hours for children aged 14 to 17.
Businesses in the Garden State, particularly those along the Jersey Shore, have struggled with finding employees for the busy summer season, and consider the new law a win for economic growth in the state. The law makes permanent several COVID-era provisions surrounding working limits for teenagers in New Jersey.
Teenagers aged 14 to 15 years old can work up to 40 hours per week, or a typical 8 hours per day from the student's last day of school through Labor Day. Older teenagers, those aged 16 through 17 (and up to 18 years old) can work up to 10 hours a day, or up to 50 hours per week through Labor Day.
"Workforce capacity remains a big issue in New Jersey, as well as around the country," said Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "By permanently expanding the workweek for 16- and 17-year-olds from 40 to 50 hours and allowing the same age group to work up to 10 hours (per day) instead of 8, employers will have more flexibility in their scheduling at this most important time of the season."
In addition to NJBIA supporting the law, other agencies supporting the changes include the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Morey's Piers in Wildwood and Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, Ocean County.
A similar bill was passed last year and was signed by Murphy as a temporary law. This law makes those temporary regulations permanent, allowing for teenagers to work expanded hours all summer long.
The new law also shifts the process for obtaining a work permit in New Jersey. While previously, teenagers would have to apply for a work permit from their school district administrators and provide parental permission, the new law allows teenagers to obtain a permit through a centralized database from the state's Department of Labor, omitting the need to contact the school district at all.
Though parental consent will no longer be required, the teenager's parent or legal guardian will receive written notice of their child's work permit application within three days of the application being submitted, and can object to the application for up to two weeks.
In accordance with current labor laws, teenagers to opt to work 50 hours per week during the summer will be eligible for overtime priced out at time and a half for anything over 40 hours per week.
However, some opponents of the bill say that low-wage jobs — particularly along shore boardwalks — could end up exploiting the new law without providing the overtime pay that these minors would be entitled to.
"Allowing youth to work 50 hours a week is tantamount to allowing employers to require youth to work 50 hours a week in order to get a job," Diana Auten, a parent advocate from the SPAN Advocacy Network told NorthJersey.com. "The stated purpose (of the law) is to benefit businesses who are having a hard time hiring staff. Such businesses may be able to attract more staff by offering a higher hourly rate instead of significantly increasing the workweek for growing adolescents."
More than 6 million teenagers in the United States — or 36.6% — held a summer job in 2021, according to Pew Research. The year marked the highest rate of teen employment since 2008. Though summer jobs took a dip in 2020 due to COVID-19, researchers are expecting this summer's rate to be as high as last year's.