Teens in N.J. can work longer summer hours under new law

By: - July 6, 2022 2:12 pm

Mamalukes Pizza & Ice Cream, pictured on May 29, 2022, is a popular eatery in Belmar. (Photo by Daniella Heminghaus for New Jersey Monitor)

Teens can now work longer shifts during the summer months under a bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law in the midst of the busy shore season. 

The legislation (A422) allows 16- and 17-year-olds to work up to 50 hours a week — up to 10 hours each day — when they aren’t in school. It also updates the hours 14- and 15-year-olds can work — a total of 40 hours a week during the summer months.

A similar bill signed into law last year expanded work hours for teens just for last summer and expired last Labor Day. The new measure signed by Murphy Tuesday makes the expansion permanent. 

The summer can be a make-or-break economic period for businesses down the shore and along the boardwalk. Beset by surging inflation and a continuing labor shortage, business owners are looking to hire teenagers. 

The new law also changes the way teens will obtain work permits. Prior to the bill, teens could only obtain work permits through their school districts, with a signature from a school official who says the job won’t interfere with classes, and another from a parent or guardian. 

Now minors will no longer need parental consent or anything from the school district to secure a work permit. Instead, the state Labor Department will create a centralized database for teens to register for work permits, which will be accessible to employers when interviewing potential employees. 

While parental consent isn’t required, the teen’s parent or guardian will receive a notice within three days of the application being filed and can object to the permit within two weeks. 

Under the legislation, about $1 million is allocated to the Labor Department to create the database.

Michelle Siekerka of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association applauded the bill, saying it will give employers more flexibility in scheduling during a crucial time in the year. 

“Workforce capacity remains a big issue in New Jersey, as well as around the country,” she said. “This bill will make it much easier for teens and their families to go through the working paper process with each job, so they can gain valuable work experience.”

Shore businesses like Morey’s Pier and Six Flags Great Adventure supported the law while it swiftly passed the Senate and Assembly chambers late last week. They pointed to more people opting for “staycations” during a time of high gas prices and residents feeling more comfortable to come out to the shore.

More than 35% of teens held a paying job for at least part of last summer — the highest since 2008, according to Pew Research. Most of those were service and food-related jobs. 

Fifteen states require working papers for students. Several other states, including Connecticut and New York, expand teens’ working hours during the summer months as well.


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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.