The Crusader

Are students aware of their rights at work?

Chloe Burgos, Staff Writer

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As of 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 29 percent of the 11 million students aged 16 and above worked at least part-time.

With so many students working, and not a lot of information covered on the topic in school, how many students in the workforce are aware of their rights?

According to the New York State Department of Labor child labor laws, while school is in session students can only work a maximum of:

  • four hours on days preceding school days (Sunday through Thursday)
  • eight hours on weekends and holidays
  • 28 hours per week
  • six days a week
  • and the earliest a minor can work is 6 a.m. and the latest is 10 p.m

See complete guidelines

Senior Chris Leon knows his rights. He worked at the Renaissance Faire over the summer. Leon knew about the maximum of 28 hours weekly, the latest a minor could work is 10 p.m., and that he can only work at most six days a week. Although, he believed the maximum work time on a school night was to be six hours.

Unlike Leon, Senior Rachel Hickey said she had no clue what any of the child labor laws were. When asked, Hickey got all of them wrong except for the maximum number of hours a student could work weekly.

“I’ll be honest, I guessed on all of these,” she said, “I don’t pay attention to the laws because I don’t want to follow them anyways.”

Senior Hailey Maylath only knew you couldn’t work more than four hours on a school night. While Seniors Sean Rumler and were aware there was a limitation, but they didn’t know the exact number.

“I know the hours and breaks,” said Mirasola, an employee at a local party supply store, “but I’ve worked very long shifts, so I don’t know if my employers know the laws themselves.”

Rumler said he only knew a few laws.

Minors need to know they’re safe at work. They should be reassured that if anything goes wrong at work they have the law to protect them.”

— Gabriela Mirasola

“I know you can’t work past 10 on a school night and you can’t work more than like, 20 hours per week,” he said.

While Monroe-Woodbury seniors know some of their limitations, some aren’t aware of the exact numbers regarding their rights, but should students become educated on them?

“I think it’s helpful for kids to know their rights,” said Maylath. “So they don’t get taken advantage of and can focus more on school work than their job.”

“Minors should be aware so they aren’t taken advantage of by their employers,” said Hickey. “Employees might feel pressured by the amount of the hours they work, but with the law on their side, they can feel confident in defending themselves.”

“Minors need to know they’re safe at work,” said Mirasola. “They should be reassured that if anything goes wrong at work they have the law to protect them.”

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Are students aware of their rights at work?