Maine Department of Labor offers students summer employment tips

AUGUSTA – As school gets out for the summer, the Maine Department of Labor is reminding students looking for summer jobs that the work-permit application is available online. All minors under the age of 16 must have a work permit before they start a job, whether or not they attend school.

“Summer jobs introduce teenagers to potential careers while teaching them important work-related skills, not to mention how to manage a paycheck,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Young people between the ages of 16 and 20 have the highest unemployment rate of any age group, so jobs that help teens gain work skills will make them more employable as they finish high school and consider their next steps.”

There are some restrictions based on age and type of work. For teens under the age of 16, restrictions limit the kinds of jobs and the hours they can work. Minors cannot work jobs considered “hazardous.” Some of the jobs Maine teens under 18 years of age cannot do include operating most mechanical equipment, driving for work and working alone in a cash-based business.

During non-school weeks in the summer, minors can work more hours than they can when school is in session, although hazardous duties protections still apply. Minors ages 14 and 15 can work 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day, but no more than six days a week; minors 16 and 17 can work 50 hours a week, 10 hours a day, but no more than six days a week.

“Before going to work, however, there are several steps teens must take to obtain a work permit,” advised Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “First, they must look for work and receive a job offer. They then must apply for a work permit at the superintendent’s office of the school district in which they live.”

Teens or parents can download the work-permit application here and drop off the completed form, which must include a parent’s signature, at the superintendent’s office. Blank forms are available at superintendent’s offices for pick up as well.

Parents and employers can expedite the approval process by making sure the work permit request includes both proof of age and parental/guardian approval. The application must contain the specific job duties (e.g., “dishwasher”). The name of the business on the permit must be the actual business name, which may be different from what people commonly call it.

The school district sends the completed application to the Maine Department of Labor for approval. Teens can have two active work permits in the summer but only one permit during the school year.

A copy of the Guide to Maine Laws Governing the Employment of Minors is posted on the Maine Department of Labor website and is available by request by calling 207-623-7900. Additional forms and information about employment law in Maine are available at the Bureau of Labor Standards’ website.

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