Youth and Part-Time Workers Have Rights

M. Moen, Staff Writer

I was having a bad panic attack. I couldn’t calm down, but I had work at 5 p.m.. What was I supposed to do? I had to call out, but instead of telling them I was having a bad mental health day, I lied, and said I was feeling sick. I was scared of calling out because I didn’t think I had sick time available to me. It wasn’t until I calmed down and went to my uncle’s house that I found out, from him, I had rights — not only as a minor, but also as a part-time worker. 

Teenagers around the country help fill the workforce, but many probably don’t know their rights as youth and part-time workers. 

Avery Somers, a junior at DRHS, works part-time at Michaels, “[I know] some [of my rights] but not all,” Somers said. 

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), “A minor means any person under the age of eighteen, except an individual who has received a high school diploma or a passing score on the general educational development examination.” 

Youth under the age of 14 cannot be employed, according to the United States Department of Labor; however, minors 14 and older may work in restaurants, office jobs, and retail. Workers who are 16 and 17 may also work in retail, restaurant, and office jobs as well, but “minors” cannot operate heavy machinery. 

Colorado youth may not work more than 8 hours within a 24-hour period or 40 hours in a week. 14 and 15-year-olds have to have a work permit, but those 16 and 17 are not required to have a work permit. 

Under the Colorado Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, employers of all sizes are required to provide their employees with paid sick leave: 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Paid sick leave doesn’t just go for physical sickness, sick leave also includes mental health issues. This law also applies to part-time and underage workers.

Employers must pay minimum wage to all employees. In Colorado, minimum wage is $13.65, and if your job allows you to have the capacity to make tips, minimum wage is $10.63 an hour. Employers can pay their employees more if they want, but have to at least abide by Colorado state wage laws, not just federal wage laws. 

Workers of every age have rights. ( )

As part-time workers, the youth of the workforce, and the youth of America, knowing your rights are important. To learn more about Colorado state labor laws, visit Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and for federal working laws, visit United States Department of Labor