Your teenager has landed their first summer job. While you and they are looking forward to their newfound independence and paycheck, it’s also crucial that they understand their rights.
Even if they’re only working part-time and their job ends when they go back to school in the fall, under California and federal law, employers owe them many of the same protections as they owe other employees. In some cases, because of their age, they have added protections.
Teenagers’ rights in the workplace
California in many ways is one of the best states for a teen to be working. The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) even has a “Young Worker Bill of Rights.”
Many teens aren’t informed about their rights in the workplace. Their parents often aren’t either. Unfortunately, too many employers are only too happy to take advantage of that – or they may not be fully informed either.
Special restrictions for minors
Minors (those under 18) have some restrictions in the number of hours per day and per week they can work. There are also restrictions on nighttime work. These restrictions are greater for those under 16 than for 16 and 17 year-olds.
These are in place to prevent a teen’s job from interfering with their school responsibilities. However, they can also help keep them safe. Excessive overtime and overnight hours for anyone of any age can lead to accidents and injuries. There are also regulations that prevent them from doing hazardous work.
Of course, just about any type of work can come with hazards. Eager young employees too often are willing to do tasks that older workers balk at (understandably). Of course, that’s just one reason why they need to receive the same safety training as any other employee – even if it just involves learning not to touch hot plates or coffee pots in a restaurant.
Under the law, minors have the same right to workers’ compensation benefits as other employees. While teens may be hesitant to report an injury, let alone seek medical treatment or take time off to recover, it’s crucial for parents to ensure that if they require these things, they get the workers’ comp benefits to which they’re entitled. It’s important to know the law and to help your teen protect their rights.