Whether your teenager works part-time throughout the school year or only during summer vacation, it’s important to know – and to make sure they know – that they have just as much right to a safe and healthy workplace as their older, full-time co-workers.
Most parents don’t think of their kids’ workplaces as dangerous. There are some limits regarding what kinds of industries minors can work in. However, even a store (particularly a large warehouse-type store) or restaurant can present its own risks – from falls to burns to lacerations. U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that workers under 25 suffer twice the rate of workplace injuries as their older counterparts.
Why are teens at higher risk of injury?
There are a number of reasons. For example:
- Because they usually work part-time and/or seasonally, they often don’t get the same level of safety training as full-time employees.
- Also because they’re not in their workplace as much, they’re usually not as experienced with potentially dangerous equipment and may not always take the appropriate precautions or recognize when there’s a problem.
- They’re often willing to take on tasks that older workers can’t or prefer not to, like climbing on tall ladders.
In addition to being less risk-averse, many teens don’t take what could be a serious injury seriously. They may not even report it because they don’t want their hours cut or to be relegated to more menial tasks.
Minors have a right to receive workers’ compensation
When a teen’s workplace injury or illness requires medical care, they (and their parents) may not realize that they’re entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits to cover the cost of that care and help defray their lost wages. However, minors have the same rights to workers’ comp as employees 18 and over. That’s the law in New Jersey and throughout the country.
Moreover, under New Jersey law, “if the minor was employed in violation of child labor laws, benefits for temporary disability, permanent disability, or death are double the amount normally awarded.”
Don’t count on their employers to tell them about workers’ comp or make it easy for them to apply. You may need to help your teen assert their right to receive workers’ comp. Having legal guidance can help protect their rights.