With the school year coming to an end, high school students will be knocking on the doors of local businesses in search of a summer job.
Some businesses in Bell Gardens spent time last week preparing to hire the younger workers by learning more about child labor laws and finding out why teens could be ideal workers.
The Bell Gardens Chamber of Commerce hosted the May 23 roundtable targeted at local businesses looking to hire summer youth employees and interns. Human Resource consultant Brenda Trujillo led the event and discussed child labor laws, such as the work permits required from a minor’s school district.
“It’s summer time, you’re going to get a lot of kids knocking on your door,” Trujillo told the audience made up of Chamber members.
Any person under the age of 18, including high school graduates, needs a school-issued permit to legally work, even in a family owned business, according to California’s child labor laws.
Elena Reed, Career Services Supervisor for the Montebello Unified School District, helps students get the permit they need to work legally. “Students need to visit their high school career center, which offer preparation and programs that could put their foot in the door,” said Reed about students interested in working in the summer. The permit application must be signed by the student and a parent, the employer offering a job and the school district.
Trujillo told EGP that young workers should also contact their school districts to see what job options they have and to learn more about the laws that pertain to them such as hour restrictions, so they don’t get ripped off by employers who can sometimes take advantage of young workers.
Trujillo also discussed age restrictions on certain jobs like places that serve alcohol, as well as the penalties of up to $10,000 that businesses face if they do not take the precaution to safeguard their employees.
Trujillo said minors have a greater risk of being injured on the job. Statistics show that 1 out of 4 children in the United States is injured due to illness or injury caused at a workplace, according to a 2013 California labor law report.
“That’s more than double the average of American adults,” Trujillo said. “There’s a lot of things that happen to kids, which is why we have the laws we have today.”
But according to Leticia D. Chacon, Chief Executive Officer of Human Services Association located in Bell Gardens, it is important to hire young people because they are the future of the community.
“All communities should hire students because they help the community grow,” Chacon said. “If you teach them to work hard then the community is going to grow and be stronger later.”
Trujillo said that young employees tend to be willing to learn and “easy to mold and shape.”
“You can take a teen who has no direction and give them direction and possibly give them a career,” she said.
Chamber President Susan C. Smith is CEO and president of the Loan And Jewelry Co. in Bell Gardens. She said one of her employees who started with her company at a young age has now been with her for 20 years. The key to being hired, says Smith, is for the young person to be professional, take responsibility, know that they have to show up on time and be aware of their appearance.
“Once they get the job, they can pick up numerous skills,” Smith said. “It prepares them for life.”
Retail and food service jobs are popular among teens because the hours are more flexible, but Trujillo advises minors to not be afraid to look at what they are passionate about and to employers in the field and ask if they hire minors or offer apprenticeships.
Esmeralda Peralta works in the Human Resource department at the Family Health Care Centers of Greater Los Angeles clinic in Bell Gardens, focused on learning about the laws that pertain to student volunteers. She said even volunteers are subject to child labor laws and require a permit from their school district.
“We don’t have volunteers right now but I know the summer is coming soon and students are going to come through our doors and ask if we have any volunteer work,” Peralta said. “I want to make sure I know the laws before I bring them in.”
Elizabeth Davis, senior accountant manager for Quality Lift and Equipment in Santa Fe Springs said that by hiring students and minors, business could teach the minor to be more business-oriented and to help out in their community.
“In return [businesses] will get someone who is fresh and able to learn.”