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When Teens Go to Work

When a teen lands a first job, it is a huge deal - for the whole family.  Suddenly, schedules become more frantic, there are new situations to deal with and everyone goes through a period of adjustment.  There are a lot of things to consider before agreeing to allow your child to enter the workforce.  These are a few of the areas many parents wonder about.  If you have specific concerns or questions about your teen, please call the PVPS S.A.F.E. Prevention Counselor at your child's school.

Teens at Work

The Good News and the Bad News
Is Your Teen Ready?
Parent Tips: Before & After Your Teen Takes a Job

Youth Labor Laws
Sources and resources for more information

Good News and Bad News
Some positives from work experience for young people include:
+ Obtaining valuable work experiences

Learning time management skills
Forming good work habits
Learning how to effectively manage finances
Gaining useful, marketable skills
Building self esteem
+ Developing independence and self sufficiency

But the negatives may include:
- More likely to use drugs and alcohol.
- Less time on homework.
- Less academic effort.
- Higher rates of absenteeism and less school involvement.
- Lower grades in school.
- Less time with family.
- More conflict with parents over spending decisions.
- Development of negative views of work itself.

Research shows that many of the negative consequences young people face when they enter the workforce stem from working too many hours.  Experts recommend that teens work no more than 15-20 hours a week while school is in session.

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Is Your Teen Ready?
Just because your child hits a magical age where he is able to get a job doesnt mean he is prepared for the workforce.  How can you and your teen tell if the time is right?  In 1990, the Secretary of Labor formed the Secretarys Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) to discover what skills and traits young people need to be ready for work.  Some of their findings include:
*Knowing how to allocate time and money
*Being able to participate as a member of a team
*Exercising leadership
*Working with cultural diversity
*Information skills, including acquiring, evaluating, organizing and sharing information
*Basic reading and math skills
*Thinking skills such as creative thinking, decision making, problem solving and reasoning
*Personal qualities like responsibility, self esteem, sociability, self-management and integrity.

Other skills and traits may be also be considered necessary, depending on the position.  Some that are in high demand are communication, public speaking and computer literacy.

If your child has some but not all the skills and traits listed, he still may be prepared for tackling a job.  Much will depend on the individual and the type of work.  It is a decision each family will need to face when they feel the time is appropriate.

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Parent Tips: Before & After Your Teen Tales a Job

Before your child even fills out a job application:
Hold a discussion. Find out why your teen wants a job and explain the responsibilities associated with holding down a job while in school.
Know the laws.  Federal and state government regulate what kind of work young people can do and the hours they work. (see below)
Reach an agreement on how your teen will use the income from a job.  Saving some of the paycheck should be a priority.
Create a schedule with your teen.  Block off time for homework, other activities and family time.
Teach your teen practical ways to manage adverse situations on their jobs as well as in school.
Most importantly, be supportive. 

Once your teen lands a job:
Watch for signs of tobacco/alcohol or other drug use
Monitor your childs school performance
Spend time together
Review any agreements you made prior to the job, discuss any changes that need to be made and follow through.

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Youth Labor Laws
Jobs Youth are Allowed to Perform at Specific Ages:

Under 14
Babysitting, newspaper delivery, acting/performing.  Youth under 14 may also work in a business owned 100% by their parents, but is still prohibited from any hazardous duties on the job.

14 & 15 Years Olds
may also work in an office, grocery store, retail store, restaurant, movie theater, baseball park, amusement park, or gas station. They generally may not work in communications or public utilities jobs, construction or repair jobs, driving a motor vehicle or helping a driver, manufacturing and mining occupations, power-driven machinery or hoisting apparatus other than typical office machines, processing occupations, public messenger jobs, transporting of persons or property, workrooms where products are manufactured, mined or processed, or warehousing and storage.

16 & 17 Year Olds may work in any position declared not hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.  These are considered hazardous occupations that people under 18 can not do:
Manufacturing and storing of explosives
riving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle
Coal mining
Logging and sawmilling
Power-driven woodworking machines
Exposure to radioactive substances
Power-driven hoisting apparatus
Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines
Mining, other than coal mining
Meat packing or processing (including the use of power-driven meat slicing machines)
Power-driven bakery machines
Power-driven paper-product machines
Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products
Power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears
Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking operations
Roofing operations and all work on or about a roof
Excavation operations

Maximum daily and weekly hours and days per week
Under 16: 8 hours/day 40 hours/week during non-school periods
               3 hours/day 18 hours/week during school
               No work after 10PM before a school day

16 & 17 Years old: No state law restricts hours per day or week.

The minimum wage for covered, nonexempt employees no matter their age is $5.85 per hour. That will increase to $6.55 per hour on July 24, 2008.  For young workers, however, there is an exception to the minimum wage law.  State and federal law allows employers to pay newly hired workers under the age of 20 a Youth Training Wage of $4.25 per hour during the first 90 consecutive days of employment.

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Resources and sources:
Adolescent Employment Fact Sheet/Ohio State University
Youth@Work: Talking Safety South Dakota
Journal of Extension: Teen Employment
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Youth At Work
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration
South Dakota Department of Labor
Secretarys Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS)

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