There are a lot of misconceptions about workers’ compensation – particularly around who is eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. If you’re the parent of a teen who’s working after school and during vacations to save for college or just have their own spending money, you need to know – and so do they – that they have the same rights to workers’ comp as adult employees.
Here in California, almost every employer with at least one employee is required to carry workers’ comp insurance. Workers’ comp benefits are available to those under 18 years of age. No employer should tell your teen that they can’t get workers’ comp because of their age.
Of course, the best-case scenario is for your teen to be in a workplace where employee safety is taken seriously and all employees, even those who work part-time or seasonally, get the necessary safety training and equipment from the start.
Young workers have a higher injury rate than their older counterparts
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that workers under the age of 24 have a higher rate of injury than older workers do. They’re often more willing to take on potentially dangerous jobs. Older workers may ask them to do things they don’t feel comfortable doing – like climbing ladders or carrying heavy boxes.
Younger workers are often less likely to complain if they suffer an injury or to be able to tell whether it’s something that should get medical treatment. They want all the hours they can get and don’t want to risk having to take time off work or be fired. Of course, it’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against any employee for filing a valid workers’ comp claim.
They need to know their rights
At least half of young people between 16 and 24 years of age in California are employed. Too few know their rights. That’s why California’s Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) developed a “Young Worker Bill of Rights” that addresses what those in their first forays into the workforce need to know about their legal rights regarding safety, pay and more.
If your child has suffered a workplace injury or illness, be sure they seek the workers’ compensation to which they’re entitled. If they’re having difficulty getting approved, it can help to have legal guidance.