Summer jobs are a rite of passage for many teens. And while entering the workforce for the first time can help young people develop independence and meet financial needs, it comes with some unique challenges and risks. For instance, Teenagers are up to 2.3x more likely to suffer job-related injury than adult workers. Teenagers are more vulnerable to sexual harassment, sexual assaults and are frequently exposed to other illicit activities for the first time. After all, they are relatively young and naïve when compared to college age or adult co-workers, and these experiences can have lasting impacts on health and education outcomes. If your teenager is clocking in this summer, check out these summer job safety tips to help guide them toward a positive employment experience:
- Know their contact information and schedule. When should you expect your teen home after work, and how can you reach their workplace in case of emergency? Find out and keep the information in a safe place.
- Teach them about their rights. Teach them that sexual harassment isn’t legal, and they don’t have to compromise themselves to “fit in” with older coworkers. Tell them it’s okay to say No or tell someone they are uncomfortable with certain situations or behaviors. They shouldn’t be concerned about getting a coworker in “trouble” if that person is crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
- Talk about reporting hazards. Stress that everyone has the right to a safe working environment, and give your teen some examples of conditions they should report to their boss. Use examples your teen will understand, even if they might not occur at their job— water on the floor could cause someone to slip and fall, so it should be cleaned up, etc. You can also help your teen report any hazards or issues if their work environment seems unsafe.
- Be curious! Ask questions and watch for changes. Check in with your teen throughout the summer. Ask questions like what tasks they are enjoying or finding challenging, and leave room to discuss any problems or concerns. And as always, pay attention to how your teen is eating and sleeping. Their daily care should not suffer while they have a job, so speak up if you notice any changes in their habits or behaviors— or ask their doctor for advice if necessary.
- Provide context. Explain that people are not defined by their jobs, and underline how important it is to learn when something is or is not a good fit. Your teenager is beginning to establish themselves as an individual, and they should pay attention to their feelings! Hopefully, your teen will enjoy their summer job. But if their working environment does not feel safe to them, be prepared to discuss prioritizing their health and what next steps make sense.
Parents and caregivers play an important role in keeping young workers safe. Providing your teen with appropriate guidance is essential, but there may be times when you need to become more involved—or when you need to contact Morgan & Morgan. The employment and labor lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have successfully pursued thousands of labor and employment claims for the people who need it most. If you need us, do not hesitate to contact our office or fill out our free, no-obligation case review form.