04Dec 2018

Ask the Expert – Employment of Young Workers

Question:  I employ quite a few people under the age of 18. Can they perform all job tasks?

Answer: It depends on your business. California law limits some types of work people under the age of 18 may legally perform.

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR): “Minors under 18 MAY NOT be employed or permitted to work in occupations declared hazardous in federal regulation and adopted by inclusion by the state of California.”

Some of these hazardous occupations include, but are not limited to:

Young worker uses protective gear on the job

Workers under age 18 may face limitations on hours they may work and the types of tasks they may perform.

  • Coal mines
  • Firefighting
  • Working with explosives
  • Operating power-driven woodworking machines or hosting machines
  • Excavation
  • Logging, sawing, mill occupations

In addition to the above restrictions, you’re also limited in terms of the schedule those under 18 may work.  Furthermore, minors who haven’t graduated from high school or passed the high school equivalency exam must have a work permit.

Due to their lack of experience, teens are not as familiar with workplace hazards as more seasoned workers. To help combat this, ensure that you provide teens clear instructions for each task. Make sure that you provide comprehensive, hands-on training for the type of work they will be doing and equipment they will be using.

Don’t forget to show your young workers what safety precautions to take and what personal protective equipment (PPE) they may need. Make sure to explain that they should feel free to speak up if they don’t understand something or if they see a problem.  Ensure that their supervisors are observing them closely and regularly stressing safety.

If you have employees under the age of 18, we suggest that you consult with a qualified lawyer to obtain legal advice specific to your particular circumstances.  For more information regarding the limitations surrounding hiring minors, please see the following links:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DLSE-CL.htm

http://youngworkers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/LOHP.factshee.Employers16-web.pdf

http://youngworkers.org/our-materials/

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/agfacten.pdf

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