Teenagers and Summer Jobs

May 28, 2024

Parents and caregivers often wonder whether their teen is ready to get a job.  

Federal law limits the number of hours young people can work, even during the summer, and it also limits how late at night teens can work. Check the U.S. Department of Labor for information on laws related to child labor. 

Even when teens are legally able to work in certain summer jobs, consider these questions: 

  • How will they get to work on time and get home after work? Do they need a car? 
  • Are they able to follow directions well? 
  • Are they physically able to do the job they’re considering? A young teen, for example, might be better suited to babysitting than landscaping. 
  • Do they need a special certification to get the job they want? 

If your teen doesn’t need to work, also consider: 

  • Should they be focusing on summer school or tutoring during the summer, rather than working full-time? 
  • Will they be able to balance family vacations, sports practices, or other planned activities with the responsibilities of a summer job? 

Summer job precautions 

Young workers have one of the highest rates of injury. Here are some tips for safe work practices for teens: 

  • Teens need sun protection and to stay hydrated. Many teens find outdoor work during the summer months, such as pool maintenance or lawn mowing. They should wear hats and sunscreen when in the sun and drink lots of water throughout the day. 
  • Make sure you have your teens’ contact information and schedule. Know when to expect teens home after work and how to reach their workplace in case of emergency. 
  • Teens need to avoid hazardous work. For example, by federal law teens are not allowed to work in freezers, other than to go in to get items such as food. Encourage your teen to avoid taking on duties that are hazardous or dangerous to their health or well-being. 
  • Ensure your teen understands that no one must put up with harassment in the workplace—no matter if the harasser is a coworker, supervisor, delivery person, customer, or the CEO. Inappropriate behavior, comments or actions that make an employee uncomfortable should be reported. Explain that retaliation is prohibited against an employee who reports harassment or inappropriate behavior. 

Teenagers are smart and savvy about a lot of things. But many simply don’t have enough life experience to judge the appropriateness of certain behaviors in the workplace.  

  • Teen workers should report unsafe conditions to their boss. Let your kids know that everyone has the right to a safe working environment—for example, recognize areas at work that could cause someone to slip and fall and take action, whether that means picking up items blocking a walkway or mopping up spills. 
  • Show teens how to reduce the chance of electrocution. Remind them to keep power tools and any machinery away from water and to never touch a downed power line. 
  • Teach teens about safe lifting practices. Talk about when to ask for help when heavy lifting and how to lift safely (by using the knees instead of the back). 
  • Continue to check in with your teens as the summer progresses. Make sure that eating, sleeping, and day-to-day care are not suffering while they’re holding down a job.  

When you’re there to help them. We’re here to help you. 

Visit your Assistance Program WorkLife portal to access parenting and caregiving support tools and resources. 

The Assistance Program is a free and confidential employee benefit available to employees and their loved ones at no cost