Teens make up a significant part of the temporary holiday workforce. Eager to earn a little money to buy gifts and out of school for a few weeks over vacation, you can find them in stores, Christmas tree lots, restaurants and even dressed as Santa or one of his elves.
Many businesses rely on teen workers and give them as many hours as possible once they’re on winter break. Because they’re part-time and/or temporary, they don’t have to give them many of the benefits of full-time employees. Many are willing and able to do just about anything they’re asked.
All of these factors, combined with the fact that they too often get little or no safety training, can be a recipe for a serious injury. Teens – especially boys – may be inclined to just “walk it off” if a large, heavy box falls on their foot, a pine needle sticks them in the eye or they burn themselves on a pan in a busy restaurant kitchen.
What does Florida law say?
Florida employers have special obligations to minors under the Florida Child Labor Law as well as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to comply with restrictions on hours and types of work they can perform. They’re also obligated to protect their health and safety.
Like employees of all ages, they have a right to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. In fact, under Florida law, if the employer of an injured minor is found to be in violation of state child labor laws, that minor may be entitled to twice the amount of workers’ comp an adult in the same circumstances would be entitled to. Further, the employer is the one responsible for paying that additional compensation rather than their insurer.
Unfortunately, not all employers are fully aware of their obligations under the law – or they knowingly fail to comply. That’s why it’s important for teens and their parents to know their rights when it comes to safety in the workplace – and their right to workers’ comp if they need it.