Hiring teen workers this summer?

May 5, 2022
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Written by Washington Retail
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With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, teens will be looking for a summer job. If your business has considered hiring teen workers for the season, you need to know that in 2021:

  • There were 801 teens injured at work in Washington state
  • Teen on-the-job injuries ranged from cuts and lacerations to bruises, contusions, and burns
  • Teen injuries resulted primarily from falling while carrying an object, slipping on a wet floor, or making contact with an oven or other hot object

The legal age to work in Washington State is 14 years old. For minors under 14 to work, an employer must first get permission from a Superior Court judge in the same county of the minor’s residence.

Before an employer can hire a minor, they must have:

  1. Minor work permit endorsement on their business license
  2. A completed and signed parent/school or summer authorization form
  3. Proof of age document (e.g., a birth certificate or driver’s license)

There are also specific meal and rest break requirements and hours of work limitations for teens. These vary whether the work is during the school year or over summer break.

Additionally, employers must ensure that minors are not performing prohibited job duties, which include:

  • Wrecking, demolition, and excavation
  • Operating power-driven woodworking machines
  • Working higher than 10 feet off the ground or floor level
  • Operating forklifts or other heavy equipment
  • Using powered bakery equipment or powered meat/food slicers and grinders
  • Working alone past 8 p.m. without adult supervision on the premises (applies only to service occupations such as retail and restaurant industries)

There are also additional restrictions for minors younger than 16 years old.

Some things your business can do to help ensure fewer teen injuries at work include:

It is important to remember that any concerned citizen can report potential youth employment violations, so your business must know the requirements for keeping young workers safe.

Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].