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Teen Workers in Oakland, CA

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Each year thousands of California teens enter the workforce as a rite of passage. Whether they are working over the summer to pay for their car, gasoline, or insurance, or if they get an after-school job to pay for entertainment, college or just to help their family out, countless teens get their first jobs as early as fourteen or fifteen years old. Many of California's teens have no idea of what their employment rights are, or the potential hazards they may encounter on a daily basis in the workplace.

The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), as well as the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) both put attention on the dangers in the workplace and are committed to ensuring that all teens can enjoy a positive and healthy work experience. Both organizations are committed to educating teens and providing them with the necessary education and resources they need concerning various health and safety requirements, and this includes information on teens' employment rights so they too can work in a safe environment.

Considering how many teens enter the labor force each and every year, it's critical that all new entrants into the workforce are made aware of practicing safe habits early on, so they can prevent and minimize the potential pain, suffering, or worse, permanent physical impairment associated with a work-related accident.

Helpful Tips for Teenage Workers

In virtually any occupation there are going to be hazards and potentially dangerous situations. The more information the teen worker has about these dangerous situations, the more prepared they are to observe these situations and avoid getting hurt. Additionally, the more information teens have regarding detecting dangerous situations and their employee rights, the more prepared they will be to file a workers' compensation claim in case they are injured on the job. Below are some common hazards associated with different types of work that a teen may engage in:

Food Service Industry

It's important to watch out for slippery floors which can cause slips and falls, or even serious head injuries. Other hazards include hot cooking equipment which can lead to burns and permanent disfigurement, hot or boiling cooking oil, and sharp objects.

Retail Sales

In retail, teens have to watch out for slippery floors, they also have to be careful of heavy lifting of boxes, furniture, or merchandise, all of which can cause back injuries. In the retail industry, there is an increased risk of falls from ladders, falling objects off store shelves, and violent crimes which may involve store robberies. Teens that work late into the evening at fast food restaurants or retail stores need to be watchful for predators that may attack them as they are closing or walking to their vehicle, or waiting for a ride home in the late evening hours when there are little witnesses present.

Office or Clerical Work

While the office may seem like the safest place for a teen to work, this isn't necessarily the case. Teens can still fall victim to stress, carpal tunnel syndrome, sexual harassment, and all other forms of harassment in the workplace.

Janitorial or Clean-Up Work

Teens need to be careful of toxic chemicals, and communicable diseases which may be present in the blood on discarded needles and other hazardous waste.

What are teens' rights on the job?

As a teen worker in the state of California, you have rights! Just because a teen is young and inexperienced, it doesn't mean they aren't afforded protections under California's labor laws.

According to, California's resource network for young workers' health and safety, by law your employer must provide the following:

  • A safe work environment.
  • Training on how to use chemicals and other health and safety hazards in the workplace.
  • Protective clothing and protective equipment.
  • You must be provided at least the California minimum wage; however, in some cases employers can pay below minimum wage during a teen's first 160 hours of work.
  • Thirty minutes meal period after no more than 5 hours of work, and a 10 minute break after every 4 hours.
  • If you are hurt on the job, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits and these include medical care, payments if you lose wages for more than 3 days, and other benefits in the case you become permanently disabled.

In addition to the above, you have every right to report any safety problems to Cal/OSHA, you have the right to work without racial or sexual harassment, and you have the right to refuse to work if the job puts you in immediate danger.

Workers' Comp Attorney for Teen Workers

Under California law, 14 is the minimum age requirement for most employment with the exception of informal jobs such as babysitting or doing yard work. If you are under the age of 18 and plan to work, then you will need to obtain a work permit from either your school or the school district office (unless you have graduated high school).

If you are hurt on the job, make sure you tell your supervisor right away, and tell your parents or guardians too. If you are seriously injured, seek emergency medical treatment. Your employer is required to give you a claim form, in which case you will need to fill it out and return it to your employer to make sure you receive workers' compensation benefits.

If you are a teen that has been injured at work or a parent or legal guardian of an injured teen, you are urged to contact a workers' compensation attorney from The Law Offices of Jonathan M. Brand to learn more about your rights under California workers' compensation laws.

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