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Message for young workers: A workplace injury can change your life forever

July 14, 2014
By Xenofon Moniodis

The recent tragic death of a 19-year-old worker, is an important reminder that young workers aged 16-24 are at much higher risk for injuries on the job than older workers.

L&I’s Injured Young Worker Speakers Program focuses on raising workplace safety awareness among young workers to help them avoid these types of injuries. The program brings speakers who were severely injured on the job as young workers to high schools and worksites around the state with the message that a workplace accident can change your life forever.

Speaker Matt Pomerinke of Longview, Washington, was just 21 and working at a paper mill when his arm was caught in an unguarded conveyer drive chain and ultimately amputated just below the elbow. Here’s a glimpse of Matt’s compelling story (includes graphic details).



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5 things you need to know about hiring teen workers

August 7, 2014
By Aaron Hoffman and Kyra Ingraham

Thinking about hiring a teen to work for your business during summer break or after school starts? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get from new employers:

What kind of permits and records do I need?
Any employer hiring a minor must:

  • Get a Minor Work Permit endorsement on their Master Business License. This can be done at the Business Licensing Service or any UBI service location, including the Department of Labor & Industries.
  • Keep the following information on file:
    • Proof of age
    • Personal data (name, address, date of birth and a copy of the minor’s social security card)
    • Employment description

During summer break, employers must also have a signed Parent Authorization Summer Work form for each teen worker. This form needs to be renewed every year.

Things change when the school year starts. Then employers must complete a Parent/School Authorization form, which includes additional school information and signatures.

What is the minimum wage for teen workers?
The minimum wage for 16- and 17-year-old workers is the same as for adults — $9.32 in 2014. Minors under 16 may be paid 85% of the state minimum wage ($7.92).

Are family members employees?
Yes! If the family member is a teen, there are some special items to remember. First, the minimum age requirement for working at a family business is 14 years old. Second, it’s important to remember though that even family, no matter how annoying, still needs to be treated legally and given appropriate breaks (a paid 10-minute break for every 4 hours worked, and an unpaid 30-minute lunch for every 5 hours worked).

Here is an example: Jane owns a construction company. Her 17-year-old son, John, wants a summer job. If John performed work for the company and Jane gave him anything of value for his labor, then she would need to:

  • Pay minimum wage and overtime
  • Provide a safe working environment
  • Pay workers’’ comp on John’s hours
  • Pay unemployment insurance on John’s wages
  • File federal payroll taxes
  • Get a Minor Work Permit
  • Follow all of the teen worker restrictions (There are a lot of them in construction!)

What about agricultural jobs?
As with family workers, the minimum age for teens working in agricultural jobs is 14 years old. The one exception is 12- and 13-year-olds may work during non-school months (June 1 to Labor Day) hand-harvesting berries, bulbs, cucumbers and spinach.

There are also a few exceptions regarding what wages minor agricultural workers make.

If a minor worker is a hand harvest laborer who is paid per piece picked and commutes each day from their permanent residence and works less than 13 weeks in the calendar year, he or she can be paid less than the minimum wage. For example, this could include teen workers living in the local community who harvest berries during the season but don’t normally work in agriculture at any other time.

Where can I get information about teen workers?
To learn more, including rules on hiring teens for house-to-house sales, theater work or sports work, or hiring minors under the age of 14:



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