If your teen has a part-time job during the school year, and maybe even a full-time job during the summer and long school breaks, you may not give much thought to them being injured on the job – especially if they’re working in what you might consider a “safe” environment, like a store or restaurant. They probably give even less thought to being injured – unless it happens.
Teens are sometimes at even greater risk of injury than their older co-workers. Businesses often don’t spend the same amount of time and effort training part-time or temporary employees as they do their “regular” workforce. Further, teens are often the first to volunteer to climb up and reach something on a high shelf, carry a heavy box or do any number of things that older workers may hesitate to do.
If a teen is injured, they may be tempted to slap a Band-Aid on it or “walk it off” and minimize the severity of an injury rather than report it and get appropriate medical treatment. If they’re seriously injured or develop a medical condition due to their work, they may not realize that they’re entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits as any other employee in their workplace.
Workers’ compensation rights under Pennsylvania law
As long as a teen is working for an employer who’s required to carry workers’ comp insurance (and most are), they have a right to file a workers’ comp claim. No employer should tell them that because they’re under 18 or only working during the summer or on weekends that they don’t have this right, because that’s not true.
Further, if they’re too young to legally be employed or working in a job where they don’t meet the age requirement, that doesn’t negate their right to workers’ comp. In fact, if an employer is violating labor laws involving minors, Pennsylvania law states that a minor’s workers’ comp “shall be one hundred and fifty per centum of the amount that would be payable to such minor if legally employed.”
It’s crucial for parents and teens to understand that minors have the same right to a safe workplace as adults. It’s also important to understand their rights to seek workers’ comp benefits without worrying about retaliation of any kind. In the event of an injury, it may be worthwhile to seek legal guidance to help protect those rights.