March 2017

This month’s article is a bit of a departure from our usual newsletter. Usually I write articles for employers, covering some HR issue or other that is burning a hole in my brain at the time!

But this month, I thought I would write some Q&A for teenagers who are starting a job, whether it’s part-time or full-time. If you have teenagers, this may come in handy when they are looking for their first job, or feel free to forward this information to friends and family with teenagers. As an employer you may also find some of this information useful when employing a young person.

So, let’s get started…

Q. Can a teenager who isn’t yet 16 work?
A. Yes, but there are some do’s and don’ts.
They can’t be rostered during school hours nor can they work between the hours of 10pm and 6am on school nights. Health and Safety regulations affect what they can do, e.g. vehicles, motorbikes, tractors. For some detailed information on this, take a look at the young-employees page on the website.

Q. How much does a teenager get paid?
A. For under 16 year olds, there is no minimum wage. However, there is an emphasis in showing that the wage is fair.
16 and 17 year olds can be paid a different minimum wage than adult workers (starting-out minimum wage is currently $12.20 per hour and will be $12.60 from 1 April 2017) but after 6 months they are not “starting-out” anymore and must go onto the adult minimum wage. For more details see the minimum-wage page on the website.

If the teenager is in a recognised training scheme, such as an apprentice, the law provides for them to be paid a lower rate too which does extend beyond the six months and through to 19 year olds.

Q. My teenager has been offered a job. How involved should I be in the recruitment process?
A. You shouldn’t get overly involved in the recruitment process but you do need to ensure it’s a job they can manage. How are they going to get to and from work, can they cope with the demands of the job, and can they work the hours required? We strongly encourage parents and caregivers to work through the agreement with their teenager and have a discussion with them, so they understand what is required of them and how they should behave in the workplace.

Q. What advice should I give on how my teenager should dress for work?
A. It’s a really good question, and one that your teenager can ask at their interview, “What is the dress standard and do you have a dress code?” If your teenager doesn’t know, they should ring their employer and find out what the standard is.

Q. My teenager has said there is a problem at work. Shall I contact the employer directly?
A. Every employee has the right to a support person, and that support can come in many guises. We recommend you sit down with your teenager and break the problem down. It might be a simple misunderstanding or something bigger. Equip them with the tools to start the initial conversation and, if the problems persist, seek some advice before going to the employer.

P.S. Being a ranting parent in the workplace won’t help your teenager if they are having problems.

And one last tip…..
Our teenagers are growing up in a social media world. We discourage anyone and particularly young people from posting pictures which could hamper their job search. For example, pictures which show them drinking or flashing body parts. Prospective employers do search social media sites to screen their potential employees.

If you have any other questions about employing a teenager, give us a call.