If you have a teen who works part-time during the school year or breaks or has a full-time job every summer, it’s important for you – and them – to understand that they have rights and protections under the law. This includes the right to workers’ compensation if they suffer a work-related injury or illness.
Unfortunately, too many employers fail to protect their young workers – even though they rely on them to be a relatively inexpensive source of labor. By hiring them to work part-time or on a temporary basis over the holidays, they typically don’t have to give them the same benefits that full-time employees are required to receive.
Nonetheless, all employees are required to have the necessary safety training and be provided with any protective gear required to help them stay safe. Just because they may be more willing to take on dangerous tasks, like climbing up to a top shelf in a warehouse store without the proper ladder, that doesn’t mean they should be required or allowed to. Young workers (those under 25) have a higher rate of injury than their older counterparts.
California’s “Young Worker Bill of Rights”
To help ensure that teens and their parents know their rights, California’s Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) has a “Young Worker Bill of Rights.” These rights include workers’ compensation as well as a safe workplace. Further, those who are minors (under 18) are prohibited from doing certain hazardous jobs.
Teens are often less likely than their older co-workers to take an injury seriously, let alone report it to their employer. They may be afraid that they’ll lose their job if they report an injury. They may not even know what workers’ comp is – let alone apply for it.
If your teen has suffered a workplace injury or illness, don’t let them be misled by their employer or make assumptions of their own about their right to workers’ compensation to help with the cost of medical care and lost wages. If you need advice or help, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.