Hiring Youth: Does Workers Comp Cover Teens in California?By Kenton Koszdin Law Office on July 16, 2023 | In Workers Compensation
Jobs are important for teens for many reasons. For one, they introduce youth to the workforce and teach them how to be responsible. Jobs also give minors something to do with their free time.
But what many people wonder is what happens to teens when they are injured on the job. Is there a workman’s comp for teen workers? The answer to this question is that it depends.
If you have a minor in your family who is working, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help guide them through the compensation process in the event of an accident.
Legal Ages and Restrictions to Work in California
In California, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) handles matters related to child labor. The labor agency requires child employees and their employers to comply with important rules and instructions, such as:
- The child obtaining a work permit in most, but not all, instances;
- The employer obtaining a Permit to Employ and Work;
- The child obtaining a Statement of Intent to Employ Minor and Request for Work Permit.
The Statement of Intent to Employ a Minor and Request a Work Permit must be filled out by the minor and their employer and signed by the minor’s parent. It must then be returned to the school, which will then issue a work permit.
Unlike adults, minors in the workplace have certain restrictions because they are not adults, such as a:
- Maximum eight-hour workday for all minors when school is out;
- 48-hour workweek, six days per week when school is out;
- Maximum three-hour workday and 18-hour workweeks when school is in session for minors under 16;
- Maximum four-hour workday and 28-hour workweek for minors aged 16 and 17.
Minors are also subject to nighttime working restrictions, which require teenage workers to refrain from working between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. if under 16 and between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. if 16 or 17.
What Jobs Are Available to Teenage Workers in California?
California encourages minors to enter the workplace early enough to learn how to function in the job world. Although there are numerous jobs simply out of reach of most minors in California because of lack of age and experience, there are plenty of others that are available and appropriate for minors, such as:
- Fast-food restaurant worker
- Car wash attendant
- Inventory stocker
- Gas station clerk
- Deliver driver
- Restaurant food and beverage server
- Grocery store clerk and grocery bagger
There are also a number of jobs that are available to minor workers over 16 years old.
These jobs include:
- Operating tractors over 20 hp
- Working on ladders or scaffolding over 20 feet high
- Transporting passengers in a vehicle
- Handling explosives
- Servicing machinery
Minors under 16 years old are also prohibited from engaging in work that creates hazardous quantities of dust.
The Most Dangerous Jobs for Teenage Workers
Minor employees just entering the workplace may be at a greater risk of experiencing an injury than more experienced employees. By knowing which jobs are more dangerous for youth than others, teen employees can reduce the incidence of on-the-job accidents. Some of these jobs include:
- Door-to-door sales calls
- Agricultural jobs
- Operating heavy machinery and equipment
Jobs involving working at high places are also quite dangerous for minor employees due to the risk of experiencing a fall.
Are Minors Covered Under the Workers’ Compensation Laws?
Minors are indeed covered by child labor laws in Los Angeles and workers’ compensation laws. Worker’s compensation laws dictate that minors receive workers’ compensation benefits just like adults do after a work injury.
These benefits may include temporary or permanent benefits based on a partial or total injury and may include wage replacement, medical care, and other benefits. Do part-time minors qualify for workers’ comp as well? The answer is yes.
In cases where the underlying injury is severe, such as paralysis or permanent brain damage, the minor may be entitled to benefits for the rest of their life. In every case, it is worthwhile to consult with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to navigate the complex guidelines.
When Is Workers’ Compensation Not Available for Minors?
The workers’ compensation system is comprehensive and provides valuable benefits for injured minor workers. However, workers’ compensation is not available in every situation. For example, if a minor is not considered an employee of someone, they can’t collect workers’ comp if they do work for them and are injured.
Generally speaking, a minor will be considered an employee of someone if they do consistent work for them, such as regular babysitting. Hence, unless a minor does a certain amount of work for a specific employer, they are typically not considered employees.
Teenage Worker Safety and Employer Responsibility
Employers are required by child labor laws to obtain the proper permits and authorization if they wish to hire minor workers. These employers are also required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover the injuries their minor employees suffer. Employers must also ensure that all safety protocols are in place and functional when minors (and any other workers) are executing their job duties.
An employer who fails to acquire the proper permits or disregards safety protocols can face serious civil penalties from private lawsuits and legal action taken by the state of California and the federal government.
What Types of Injury & Illness Are Covered by Minors with Workers’ Comp?
Minor workers can seek workers’ compensation benefits for workplace injuries when their injury occurs on the job. Although minors are prohibited from engaging in hazardous activities at work, they still can get hurt doing less-dangerous jobs and incur all manner of injuries, such as:
- Back injuries from improper lifting
- Slip and fall injuries
- Burns from handling or preparing food
- Falls from ladders while retrieving items for customers
- Heat stroke or exhaustion for summer workers
- Cuts and abrasions
Minors can also claim compensation for injuries suffered in traffic accidents while discharging work duties.
Types of Benefits Teens Can Access
Depending on the circumstances of the injury, an array of benefits may be available for an injured minor worker.
- Medical Treatment: Injured workers can seek benefits that will cover their medical expenses, such as emergency room visits, hospital stays, and medication;
- Wage Replacement: Depending on the injury, a minor could get up to two-thirds of their pre-accident wage while recovering from their injury — if the minor is only partially disabled and can still work, they will get the difference between; two-thirds of their pre-accident wage and what they earn while partially disabled
- Permanent Disability: Injured workers receive permanent disability benefits when they suffer a permanent injury at work, and the extent of the disability determines the number of weeks a minor will receive permanent disability benefits, which include wage replacement at two-thirds of the pre-accident wage;
- Death Benefits: Although rare, fatalities at work involving minors do occur — typically, the benefit provided when a minor passes away is money to help with funeral and burial expenses.
Certain teenage workers may also be eligible for Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits (SJDBs), which are vouchers that pay for retraining or skill enhancement.
Why More Money Is Available to Minors Through Workers’ Compensation
California provides extra compensation for injured minor workers under certain circumstances.
In addition to the previously mentioned benefits, minors may also be eligible for 50% extra compensation if the employer employed the minor illegally. Illegal employment can include working a minor worker too many hours per day, failing to obtain proper permits, and assigning a minor worker to prohibited hazardous duties.
Is a workers’ comp premium higher for minors? No. But minors can receive additional benefits based on their future earning capacity or if they suffer a permanent disability.
Because minor workers are so young, their future earning potential or capacity is much higher than an older worker. Hence, they will get more money in this category of benefits.
Steps a Minor Should Take After an On-the-Job Injury
Will workers’ comp cover minors? Yes. After an injury, a teen should follow a few steps to ensure their safety and preserve their workers’ compensation claim:
- Report the Injury to Supervisors: Include the time, date, and location of the injury as well as the contact information of witnesses
- Seek Medical Attention: Call first responders if the accident is an emergency — otherwise, head to the hospital for treatment of the injuries
- Meet with a Lawyer: Workers’ comp claims are complex, especially when minors are involved, and an attorney can help you successfully navigate the regulations and file your claim on time
An attorney can also help in cases of employer retaliation.
If Your Minor Has Been Injured at Work, We’re Here to Help
Your teen has numerous rights to compensation if they are injured on the job. They also are guaranteed protection by state and federal child labor laws. But recovering this compensation and securing these protections is sometimes difficult.
If your teen has been injured on the job in Los Angeles and needs maximum benefits, reach out to the Kenton Koszdin Law Office to help your teen take full advantage of the benefits and protections guaranteed them by federal and California law. Contact us today for a free consultation and case review to learn how we can help.