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Do teens have a right to workers’ compensation?

This is the time of year when teens across California start looking for summer jobs if they don’t already have one lined up. Many businesses of all kinds rely on teen employees and find many advantages to hiring them. 

Most teens are part-time workers, so businesses can save money by not having to provide the same benefits full-time employees are owed. They can fill the void left by salaried employees taking vacation time. They’re energetic, they typically learn fast and they’re willing to do just about any task – no matter menial.

Teen workers need to know their rights

However, teen workers often aren’t aware of their rights in the workplace. They may not think to ask, and some employers don’t bother to inform them – if they even know themselves.

Teens do have rights, though. The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC), which is part of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), has compiled a “Young Worker Bill of Rights.” This provides useful information for young workers, their parents and employers. 

Some of the rights every working teenagers should know is their right to:

  • A safe workplace, including all necessary personal protective equipment
  • Fair wages, reasonable scheduling and all due breaks
  • Special protections from hazardous work for those under 18 years of age
  • Workers’ compensation benefits after an injury

Most people don’t think of workers’ comp as something that young workers can or do claim. Indeed. they might be less likely to report an injury. However, teens and young adults often are less cautious than their older colleagues, and they’re injured at a higher rate.

The right to workers’ compensation

Under the law, all workers have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical care as well as payment for lost wages if they have to miss work for over three days. If they’re very seriously injured or even permanently disabled, they’re entitled to other benefits as well.

No worker (certainly not a minor) should be taken advantage of or placed in a dangerous situation. If your child is getting a summer job or works part-time throughout the year, make sure that you and your child know and understand their rights under California law, including their right to worker’s comp if necessary. If you need advice or assistance, an experienced attorney can help you.