Labor Commissioner Issues Reminder on Child Labor Laws Bookmark and Share

June 6, 2008

Augusta – With the school year coming to a close, many Maine teens are looking ahead to summer vacation and summer job plans. With that in mind, Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman this week reminded employers, teens, and parents of child labor laws protecting young workers and the process for obtaining a Work Permit in Maine.

Approximately 30,000 Maine teens aged 16-19 will participate in the labor force this year with either a full-time or part-time job. Nearly 4,500 teens under the age of 16 will be employed with a work permit.

"Summer jobs provide an opportunity for teen workers to earn extra spending money and learn basic job responsibilities. Child labor laws and work permits help ensure that these early working experiences are positive and that teens are safe on the job,” said Fortman.

Child labor laws prevent teen workers from working excessive hours. Schedules are restricted for all workers under 18, but only teens under 16 years old need work permits. (See below for legal work hours for teens.) Employers may not employ minors in jobs that expose them to dangerous working conditions. Some of the jobs Maine teens under 18 years old cannot do include operating most mechanical equipment, driving for work, and working alone in a cash-based business.

The Maine Child Labor Poster which is required in all workplaces provides additional information on child labor protections and is available for download on the Maine Department of Labor website at

All minors under 16 must have a Work Permit in order to work, whether or not they attend school. They must have a job offer before applying for a Work Permit. Teens can request a Work Permit at the office of the superintendent of the school district in which they live. The school district sends the completed application to the Maine Department of Labor for approval. New work permits are needed for each new job. Teens can have two work permits (for two different jobs) in summer, but only one permit during the school year.

Parents and employers can help expedite the approval process by making sure each request includes proof of age and parental approval. The application must contain the specific job title (e.g. "dishwasher" and "desk clerk" are acceptable, but "laborer" is too general). The name of the business on the permit must be the actual business name, which may be different than what people commonly call it.

For a free copy of the A Guide to Maine Laws Governing the Employment of Minors or for more information on work hours for teens, Work Permits, or prohibited occupations, call the Maine Department of Labor at 623-7900 (TTY: 1-800-794-1110).

Legal Work Hours for Teens in Maine

14 and 15 Year Olds (must have work permit)

  • May not work more than 6 days in a row.
  • When school is in session, they may not work during school hours or before 7 am or after 7 pm. Hours are limited to 3 hours a day on school days, including Fridays, and 18 hours a week.
  • When school is not in session, they may not work before 7 am or after 9 pm. Hours are limited to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week.

16 & 17 Year Olds (enrolled in school, inc. home-school)

  • May not work more than 6 days in a row.
  • When school is in session, they may not work before 7 a.m. on a school day or 5 a.m. on a non-school day. May not work after 10 p.m. the night before a school day or after midnight on a day that does not precede a school day. Hours are limited to 20 hours a week or 28 hours in a week with an unscheduled school closure. On any given school day, work is limited to 4 hours a day or 8 hours on last day of school week or an unscheduled school closure day.
  • When school is not in session, hours are limited to under 10 hours a day and no more than 50 hours a week.