It's finally the summer, which means schools are out, and so many teens are looking for a summer job to help pass the time while also funding their summer adventures. While having a summer job is considered a rite of passage for many teens, entering the workforce for the first time can also help young people develop their independence, be it mentally and financially, it can also come with its own unique risks and challenges. Below, we'll cover some of the information and tips you and your teens should keep in mind when going into the workforce for the first time.
What Harms Are Teens Vulnerable to at Work?
Unfortunately, teens are more vulnerable to sexual harassment, sexual assaults and are frequently exposed to other illicit activities for the first time. As parents and guardians, we cannot assume that young teens are as well equipped in how to handle certain situations as compared to college-age or adult coworkers, who, in some cases, may take advantage of the situation, leaving lasting impacts on their mental and physical health as well as their education and future career paths.
One study showed that high schoolers who held part-time jobs found that 1 in 3 boys and 2 in 3 girls reported being sexually harassed at work. The majority of those who reported the harassment claimed that 61% were harassed by coworkers, 19% were harassed by supervisors, and 18% were harassed by customers. So, if your teenager is looking to clock in some hours this summer, we've provided a few tips below on how you and your teen can optimize and keep their work experience safe and positive.
Tips To Keep Your Teens Safe at Work
Below we've listed the five most important tips you and your teen should follow when they begin their summer jobs in order to stay safe.
- Know their contact information and work schedule. You should know when you can expect your teen to come home after their shift is done and how you can reach them at their workplace in case of an emergency. Does their place of work have a number you can call? What's the address? Find out this information and keep it in a safe and easily accessible location.
- Teach them about their rights. Knowing your rights is incredibly important. Unfortunately, people can try to take advantage of people ignorant of the laws in place to protect them. Educate your teen 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 exhibited towards them or those around them. Your teen should not be afraid of getting a coworker in "trouble" if that person acts inappropriately.
- Inform your teen on how to report hazards. While it can feel stressful to have to report someone for making you feel uncomfortable, it is a lesson teens need to learn from a person they can trust. When talking to your teen about these situations, use examples your teen will understand, even if they might not occur at their job.
- Ask questions and monitor any changes in your teen's behavior. As uncomfortable as it is for teens to talk about things, it can be just as uncomfortable for an adult, but as their guardians, we need to set the right example to keep them safe. Check-in with your teen throughout the summer, and ask them questions about the tasks at work. Are they finding it fun or challenging? Give them room to discuss any problems or concerns without judgment.
Make sure to monitor if they are eating or sleeping, as 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.
- Remind your teen that work should feel like a safe space. Teens are still learning to navigate the world, and it is up to us to help them decide when something is a good fit or not. Remind them that it is ok to follow their feelings, and if something in their work environment doesn't feel right, they can leave. Be prepared to discuss what it means to prioritize their health and what makes sense for their safety.
As parents and guardians, we play a pivotal role in keeping teens safe when they enter the workforce. Remembering to provide your teen with appropriate guidance is essential. However, there are times when we need to step up and be more involved or when we need to contact an attorney. At Morgan & Morgan, our employment and labor attorneys have the resources to help you and your loved ones get the justice you deserve. If you need us, we’ll always be here to help you. For more information, you can complete our free, no-obligation case review form.