News Release

Don't put young workers at risk this summer

June 23, 2021
#21-014

TUMWATER — With employers recruiting workers in preparation for a post-pandemic environment, there are opportunities for many teens to get jobs this summer.

All summer, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is providing resources to employers, youth workers, and parents. It's part of a campaign about teen worker rights in the workplace and ways to stay safe on the job this summer.

Washington law expands the hours teenagers under 18 can work in the summer. Employers must:

To read about detailed requirements for hiring youth summer workers, visit L&I's web page on Youth Employment, Lni.wa.gov/Teenworkers.

"We all play a part in keeping youth safe at work," said Josie Bryan, Youth Employment Specialist with L&I. "It's important for employers especially model good safety practices so teens can take that forward to other jobs."

Injuries, citations

During the pandemic, the number of teen injuries and citations issued businesses have decreased.

In 2020 in Washington State, 662 minors were injured on the job. Most suffered cuts, sprains, or burns as a result of slipping, getting hit by an object, or touching something hot, such as a grill. Nearly all of them were preventable through safety training, Bryan said.

With a few days remaining in fiscal year 2021, a total of 88 businesses were fined $485,000. More than half the violations were for working teens longer than allowed under law, and not providing meal and rest breaks for teens 16-17 years old.

In fiscal years 2019 and 2020 combined, 229 employers were fined more than $1.08 million for nearly 530 violations - a record high. The increases are in part the result of additional staffing and improved technology in handling complaints.

"Most employers want to do the right thing," Bryan said. "Some just don't have the information they need, so we are putting a focus on getting those resources out to everyone involved in keeping youth workers safe."

Information for teens, parents, employers

L&I is also expanding its efforts to educate employers, parents, and teens, about youth employment law. Gov. Jay Inslee also proclaimed June as Safe Jobs for Youth Month.

Employers can register for webinars that provide an overview of youth employment law at L&I's calendar of workshops, events and webinars.

L&I has information on prohibited duties for minors, wages, and other regulations for hiring teen workers at Lni.wa.gov/Teenworkers. If a person believes an employer has violated youth employment laws, they can file a complaint with L&I.

L&I will also highlight teen safety through a "My First Job" video to be aired on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms. The video supports L&I's Injured Young Worker Speakers Program. The program, now in its 12th year, provides presentations in schools statewide.

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For media information:

Matthew Erlich, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6508

Connect with L&I:
Facebook (www.facebook.com/laborandindustries)
Twitter (www.twitter.com/lniwa)