Many Pennsylvania businesses rely on teen workers. This time of year, even more teens are applying for holiday jobs.
Whether your child will be working in a warehouse store or a Christmas tree lot this holiday season (or works part-time throughout the year), it’s important to know that they have the same right to a safe and healthy workplace as any adult employee – and the same right to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer a job-related illness or injury. This holds true even if they’re a temporary or seasonal worker or if they only work a few days a week after school.
Why teens are often at greater risk for injury than their older colleagues
However, employers often don’t take the same amount of time to train young part-time or temporary workers and teach them safety protocols as they do with their full-time employees. That can place teens at higher risk of suffering an injury on the job.
They can be at high risk of injury for a number of other reasons. They often are assigned the tasks that no one else wants to do. Further, they may be less inclined to say no when asked to do something unsafe or to ask for help when a task requires two people.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes that minors often don’t know their rights. A section of its website is dedicated to educating them about these rights as well as their employers’ responsibilities.
Under both federal and state law, minors (those under 18) have a right to file a workers’ comp claim if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. That right applies even if an employer violated child labor laws. In fact, under Pennsylvania law, if an employer is in violation of any labor laws related to minors, any workers’ comp payments “shall be one hundred and fifty per centum of the amount that would be payable to such minor if legally employed.”
No minor should be prevented or discouraged from seeking the workers’ comp benefits to which they’re entitled or worry about losing their job or other retaliation if they do. If your child isn’t getting those benefits, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to protect their rights.