When under the age of 18, employment in New Mexico is limited and strictly regulated. The hours a minor can work and the wages they can be paid are different from those of workers over the age of majority. Minors are required to take certain steps before applying for employment in New Mexico; this article details some of them.
The earliest age a person may be considered for employment in New Mexico is 14. Workers who are 14 and 15 years old must obtain work permit certificates. These certificates can be acquired from school officials or representatives of the Labor and Industrial Division. When a 14 or 15 year old gets a job, the employer must have a copy of the certificate for the duration of the period the youth is in their employ.
There are certain job restrictions for persons under the age of 18. Workers who are 14 or 15 years old are prohibited from occupations such as manufacturing, public messenger services, transportation, retail food, and construction work. Occupations that are deemed to be hazardous for minors at the ages of 16 and 17 include those involving explosives, elevators, slaughtering and meatpacking, paper product machines, and demolition. These jobs are precluded in order to protect young, inexperienced workers from harm.
The hours a minor under the age of 16 may work are similarly restricted. Minors cannot work during school hours, unless as part of a vocational program through the school. Usually, they may work no earlier than 7am and no later than 7pm, though they may work up until 9 pm between June 1st and Labor Day. Minors under the age of 16 cannot work more than 3 hours a day on school days, 8 hours a day on non-school days, and can have no more than 18 total hours per week during a school week. Youths 16 and over do not have these hour restrictions.
The minimum wage in New Mexico is $6.50 per hour. However, youths under 18 who obtain employment in New Mexico are not guaranteed the state minimum wage. Employers are allowed to pay less than minimum wage to any person who is under the age of 18. The one exception to this is youths who have graduated from a secondary school – the law requires that they receive at least minimum wage.