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Working Papers

Facts for Teens under 18

In NYS, anyone under 18 (minors) must show an employment certificate before they may begin work. Many people call this “working papers." The rule covers:

  • High school graduates
  • Minors who work for their parents
  • Minors who do industrial homework

School officials issue all working papers, except for child performer permits.

Types of Working Papers

Student Non-Factory Employment Certificate - AT-18 (blue paper)

  • Issued to youth ages 14 and 15 who plan to work at permitted occupations during vacations or after school hours
  • Not valid for work:
    • In factory workrooms or construction
    • Involving use of prohibited machinery or chemical processes
    • As a helper on a motor vehicle
    • Cleaning, oiling, wiping or adjusting belts to machinery

Student General Employment Certificate - AT-19 (green paper)

  • Issued to youth ages 16 and 17 who attend school and plan to work during vacations or after school hours
  • Valid for work in a factory and other trade, business or service
  • Not valid for hazardous employment such as:
    • Operating certain machines
    • Doing construction work
    • Helping on a motor vehicle
    • Cleaning, oiling, wiping or adjusting belts to machinery

Full-Time Employment Certificate - AT-20 (salmon paper)

  • Issued to youth ages 16 and 17, who are not attending school or who are leaving school for full-time employment
  • Valid for factory or other types of work
  • Not valid for hazardous employment such as:
    • Operating certain machines
    • Doing construction work
    • Helping on a motor vehicle
    • Cleaning, oiling, wiping or adjusting belts to machinery

Special Occupation Permits

Farm Work Permit

  • Not valid for work in, or in connection with, a factory or cannery
  • Each employer must sign the permit. The youth must carry the permit while working.
    • For youth ages 12 and 13: AT-25 (white paper)
    • Allows work in hand-harvest of berries, fruits, and vegetables
    • Must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or give the employer written consent from them
    • For youth ages 14 and 15: AT-24 (yellow paper)
    • Allows work before and after school, on week-ends and during vacations

Newspaper Carrier Permits - AT-23

  • For youth ages 11 to 18 who deliver, or sell and deliver to homes or places of business:
    • newspapers
    • shopping papers or
    • periodicals
  • The minor must carry the permit while working

Street Trades Permits - AT-26 (Ivory paper)

  • For self-employed youth ages 14 to 18 who sell newspapers or periodicals

How to Get Working Papers

First, get an application form at one of these places:

  • City of Buffalo: Public school students and young people who no longer attend school should apply at their high school office.
    Charter and private school students should apply at City Hall, 65 Niagara Square (716-816-3593).
  • City Of New York (all five boroughs): All young people, in and out of school, must apply at a local public high school office. If you don't know what high school to go to, you can get instructions on where to apply from the New York City Department of Education’s District Family Advocates or call 718-935-2000.
  • Elsewhere in New York State: All young people, in or out of school, can apply at any public high school or school district office.

During school vacation periods, these offices stay open part-time to issue working papers.

Take the application form home and have your parent or guardian sign it. You will need to gather:

  • Proof of age (your birth or baptism record, driver license, state-issued photo ID, school record, or passport)
  • A written statement from a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant that you are physically fit to work. (You do not need this statement to get a newspaper carrier permit if you are able to take part in your school's physical education program.)

Bring these items to the office. If your application is complete, working papers can be issued to you on the spot for part-time work during the school session. It will also allow you to work full-time during school vacation periods.

If you are a high school graduate, you can get a full-time employment certificate.

But, if you have dropped out of school, to get a full-time employment certificate, your parent or guardian must come with you to give consent in person at the issuing office.

If you are 16 years old, have dropped out of school, and live in New York City or Buffalo, you also must have an employer who wants to hire you and will sign a pledge of employment on your application form.

Special Requirements

Work on a Farm

If You Are 12 or 13

When you do not need to attend school, you may work for your parents on the home farm or at other work not connected with a business. You do not need working papers and there are no hour limits.

You may work on another farm picking berries, fruits or vegetables. You must be with a parent or give your parent's written permission to the employer. You need a Farm Work Permit and you are limited to work between:

  • 9 AM and 4 PM - Day after Labor Day to June 20
  • 7 AM and 7 PM - June 21 to Labor Day
  • Maximum 4 hrs/day - All year
Ages 11-18

If you are 11 to 18 years old, you may work as a newspaper carrier. You need a Newspaper Carrier Permit and you are limited to work between:

  • 5 AM and 7 PM - All year (or 30 min. prior to sunset; whichever is later)
  • Maximum 4 hrs/day - When school is in session
  • Maximum 5 hrs/day - When school is not in session:
If You Are 14 or 15
Work in Factory Offices and Service Stores

No one under 16 may work on the factory floor, but 14- or 15-year- olds may work in delivery and desk jobs in a factory office. The office must be enclosed and separate from the manufacturing area. The office must have a partition at least seven feet high, and must have a separate entrance so that young people may enter or leave without passing through the factory workroom.

A minor of 14 or 15 also may work in a delivery job or at a counter in a service store where goods belonging to customers are cleaned, pressed, altered or repaired, such as a:

  • Dry cleaning store
  • Tailor shop
  • Shoe repair shop
  • Laundry store
  • Hat cleaning store
  • Similar service store

You may not:

  • Work in construction or in any factory workroom
  • Use most power-driven equipment
  • Use washing, grinding, cutting slicing, pressing or mixing machinery (whether or not it is power-driven)
Newspaper Carriers

There are two major jobs related to newspaper sales and delivery. They are newspaper carrier and “street trades.”

A newspaper carrier is one who delivers, or sells and delivers, newspapers, shopping papers, or periodicals to customers at their homes or places of business.

The minimum age for a newspaper carrier is 11. (See footnote on Page XX) All newspaper carriers from ages 11 through 17 must have a permit.

Allowed hours for newspaper carriers ages11 through 17 are:

  • No more than 4 hours in a school day
  • No more than 5 hours in a non-school day
  • Not before 5 am
  • Not after 7 pm or 30 minutes before sunset, whichever is later
  • Not during the time when the minor is required to be in school

A Newspaper Carrier Permit is not valid for work as a helper on a newspaper delivery truck that delivers papers to stores or distributors. It is not valid for work as a helper on a motor vehicle that delivers papers to homes. Work as a helper on any motor vehicle is forbidden until age 18.

The newspaper publisher or distributor who supplies the papers or periodicals to the carrier must have Workers’ Compensation insurance for them. A newspaper publisher or distributor who knowingly permits a newspaper carrier to work in violation of the law pays a double Workers Compensation award if the minor is hurt. Only half that award can be covered by insurance. The publisher or distributor must pay the other half out of pocket. If there was no insurance, all of it must be paid out of pocket.

It is against the law to knowingly supply newspapers or periodicals to a newspaper carrier who does not comply with the rules. The Department of Labor and the police have shared power to enforce the law.

(Note: These newspaper carrier rules do not apply to a minor who sells newspapers at a stand owned either by a candy store proprietor or by a newspaper publisher or distributor. This is covered by the parts of the Labor Law that apply to minors employed in other industries or occupations.)

The “street trades” are:

  • Selling newspapers or other periodicals on streets or in other public places
  • Shining shoes on streets or in other public places

The minimum age for such work is 14. Young persons from ages 14 through 17, who work on the street, must have a street trades permit issued by a school official. They must carry it while working.

Allowed hours for street trades by minors 14 through 17 are:

  • No more than 4 hours on a school day
  • No more than 5 hours on a non-school day
  • Not before 6 AM
  • Not before 6 AM
  • Not during the time when the minor is required to be in school

The Department of Labor and the police have shared power to enforce the street trades rules.

If you are in an approved work-study program, you may work up to 23 hours in a week.

When school is not in session, you may work six days a week, up to eight hours in any one day and up to 40 hours in any one week. (If school is closed for the entire week, then it is not in session.)

Hours regulations do not apply to farm work.

You need working papers for any job except:

  • Work on the home farm
  • Caddying
  • Babysitting
  • Household chores and yard work at home
  • Casual employment on the premises of a non-profit organization that does not involve the use of power-driven machinery

Work in Street Trades Ages 14-18

If you are 14 to 18 years old, you may work at a street trade, such as selling or distributing newspapers or periodicals or shining shoes. You may work for four hours between 6 AM and 7 PM on any day when school is in session and five hours a day on any day when school is not in session. You need a Street Trades Permit.

Street Trades Limitations
  • 7 AM and 7 PM - Day after Labor Day to June 20
  • 7 AM and 9 PM - June 21 to Labor Day
Street Trades Limitations (During School)
  • 3 hrs/day - School days
  • 8 hrs/day - Other days

Maximum 18 hrs/wk

If You Are 16 or 17

You may work in a factory, as well as other places. You still cannot work in construction.

When school is in session, you may work:
  • Monday-Thursday 4 hrs/day
  • Friday, Saturday, 8 hrs/day
  • Sunday, holidays

Maximum 28 hrs/wk

Generally, you may not work between 10 PM and 6 AM. To work between 10 PM and midnight on a day before a school day, you need written permission from a parent or guardian and from your school. You need written permission from only your parent or guardian to work between 10 PM and midnight on a day before a nonschool day. Students enrolled in an approved Cooperative Education Program may work up to 6 hours the day before a school day, as long as the hours are part of the program.

During vacation (school must be closed for the entire week), you may work up to 6 days, 48 hours a week, for 8 hours a day between the hours of 6 AM and midnight.

If you work at a street trade, you may work four hours on any school day and five hours on any non-school day; you may not work between 7 PM and 6 AM. You need a Street Trades Permit.

You need working papers for any job except the following:

  • Farming
  • Caddying
  • Babysitting
  • Casual household chores and yard work at home or at a non-profit organization

College Students

A college student does not need working papers if employed by:

  • A non-profit college
  • A university
  • A non-profit college or university fraternity
  • Sorority
  • Student or faculty association

To get more details, call the NYS Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards office in your area (link to regional offices).

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