Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist*

Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist*

Yes, workers’ compensation is for teens as well as adults

If your teen has their first job this summer, you’re likely proud and a little anxious about how they’ll adjust to a work environment – even if their job mostly involves bringing in carts at a local grocery store. You likely don’t anticipate that they’ll suffer a serious injury. 

In fact, teens are often more likely to be injured than their adult co-workers. Employers too often don’t put the time and effort into training part-time or temporary employees. That means a lack of safety training. Couple that with teens’ general willingness to take chances that older workers don’t take, and you have a recipe for injury. 

Further, teens are typically quick to minimize their injuries – especially if they think they’ll get fired if they’re injured. That can be especially true if they think the injury was their own fault.

While you certainly don’t want your teen to be injured, it’s important to understand (and for them to understand) that they have not just the right to a safe workplace but to workers’ compensation benefits if they do suffer a work-related injury or illness.

Teens’ workers’ comp rights in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, minors have the same workers’ comp rights as adults in the same workplace. That’s true even if they’re too young to legally be doing the job they are. In fact, if a minor suffers an injury when their employer is violating child labor laws, their workers’ comp benefits “shall be one hundred and fifty per cent of the amount that would be payable to such minor if legally employed.”

Don’t let anyone (including your teen’s employer) tell them that they aren’t entitled to workers’ comp because they’re too young or because they aren’t working full-time or all year. Don’t let them tell your child that they will be fired or get fewer hours if they file a workers’ comp claim or that they can’t afford a claim. Most Pennsylvania employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance.

It’s also important to know that workers’ comp is generally a no-fault system. With limited exceptions, even if the injury was their fault, they’re still entitled to benefits.

If you have questions or concerns about your teen’s ability to get workers’ comp benefits after an injury requires medical care and possibly time away from work, it can help to have legal guidance.