Young and Seasonal Workers

Sacramento, California - Summer is around the corner and many young adults will enter the workforce while they are on break from school. From being a lifeguard to lawn maintenance to retail, it’s a classic right-of-passage to hold a seasonal job when young. Many employers welcome the extra help during busy months.

It’s important to remember that young workers often require additional training and oversight. Young and seasonal workers are more susceptible to workplace injuries due to inexperience, unfamiliarity with the job, and inadequate training.

Although young workers are maturing physically and look like adults, they are still minors. Some jobs are inappropriate for their physical development and put them at risk such as heavy lifting, operating machinery, driving motor vehicles, and working long hours.

According the Labor Occupational Health Program, each year 30 teens under the age of 18 die from work injuries in the U.S. About 27,000 are injured seriously enough to require emergency room treatment. Unfortunately, many teens are unaware of their employment rights and proper workplace safety. Many employers may forget to take the time to provide proper oversight to young employees. After all, seasonal jobs are only a few months, right?

If you plan to hire seasonal workers this summer, it is important to keep these key things in mind:

  • Seasonal workers should receive the same level of health and safety training as year-round workers. Young workers often require more training and supervision.
  • Create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and support, so seasonal workers feel comfortable speaking up if there is a problem or potential unsafe situation.
  • Employers must follow all labor laws for employees under age 18. For example, in California, workers between the ages of 16 and 17 cannot work past 10 p.m. on a school night, cannot perform certain tasks, such as driving a forklift or other heavy equipment, and must apply for work permits at their school or school district office before beginning a new job. It is up to employers to ensure these rules are followed.
  • Encourage worksite supervisors to set good examples.
  • Set-up a mentor or buddy program that matches more experienced workers with newer, younger employees.
  • Take the time to make sure all new employees understand the workplace and are able to recognize potential hazards.

During the summer months State Fund encourages you to take a look at our resources to help you determine the type of work young workers can do according to age and work hours, information on penalties for violating labor laws, work permits, and additional agency references. Also, the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley has a number of resources to help make sure you have made the right choice for you and your young worker.

Additional information