Bosses can exploit teenage workers and fail to take into account that they are only students. In addition to schoolwork, students have to juggle extracurricular activities, family affairs, and their financial situations. Many students are unaware of the details involving work permits and the policies involved in working as a minor. Consequently, bosses take advantage of teenagers by having them work overtime.
High school students mostly work either for the experience or the extra pocket money. For me, it was more for the experience. I wanted to learn how to balance school, work, and all of my extracurricular activities. Knowing the commitments I had, I requested to only work for four days a week when I applied to my first workplace: two weekdays and the weekend.
At first, my boss seemed to be very understanding. He had agreed to a maximum of four-hour work days during the week, just like how my school work permit stated. He would also let me leave as soon as the clock struck 10 p.m. After a week of having my preferred schedule, random days were added in because there was a shortage of available workers. Before I knew it, I had to work six days a week with a minimum of four to five hours each day. As soon as it surpassed the 20-hour limit, my boss violated the Minors’ Work Regulations, which outlines the maximum work hours for Monday through Thursdays to be four hours and Friday through Sunday to be eight hours.
Although the hours were not impossible, I no longer had as much time to spend with my family and friends. There was no set schedule, so I would work at different times each week. Due to this, it was near impossible to plan events with my family and friends.
According to career experts, bosses tend not to hire as many people as needed to cover the shifts. This is so that they can limit the number of people that they need to pay. As a consequence, employees end up having to work double the amount of time that they are supposed to. Employers tend to manipulate teenagers by glorifying their role in the workplace, claiming they have no one else available to cover the shift. This makes teenagers feel obligated to accept the shift, regardless of its inconvenience.
In some cases, bosses may call workers last minute to get them to cover someone else’s shift. Regardless of the threats the boss hurls, mental health should be the number one priority. Workers should not feel guilty for not wanting to cover for the shift, because it is the employer’s responsibility to find people ahead of time.
If you feel overworked, find time to talk with your boss and ask them to reduce the number of hours you work. In the case that your boss refuses to cut your hours or if you do not see a significant decrease in your hours, immediately consult your career center adviser.
Student labor is cheap, but bosses don’t consider that students have their own lives. If you feel that there is tension in your workplace after your hours have been reduced, do not be scared to quit and find another job. After all, we are students still learning from our experiences.