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Starting a Summer Job? Five Things You Should Know

It’s the time of year when high school and college students take a break from hitting the books and head out into the world to make some cash. Summer jobs include everything from lifeguarding at the neighborhood pool to working at the mall to counseling at a summer camp. These jobs are a great opportunity to gain some work experience and stay active over the summer break. If you are about to head into the working world, what do you need to know?

It’s the time of year when high school and college students take a break from hitting the books and head out into the world to make some cash. Summer jobs include everything from lifeguarding at the neighborhood pool to working at the mall to counseling at a summer camp. These jobs are a great opportunity to gain some work experience and stay active over the summer break. If you are about to head into the working world, what do you need to know?

1. Your Employer’s Human Resources Department is Available to Provide Information to you.

Many larger companies have a human resources (HR) department. You might have met a representative of HR when you interviewed or were extended an offer for employment. Human Resources is there to explain work rules to you, answer questions about benefits, and provide general guidance to you.

Though their purpose is to support employees, their priority is protecting the employer. If you have a valid complaint during your employment, such as harassment or discrimination, they can help you, but you should not go to them with every nuisance or frustration you experience while on the job, at least not before you consult with an attorney.

2. You Receive the Same Protection against Discrimination as Regular Employees.

Speaking of discrimination, it is important you understand your rights as an employee. Just as permanent full-time employees are protected against discriminatory actions in the workplace, so are you. There are specific things employees are prohibited from using as a basis for making placement and dismissal decisions. These are known as legally protected classes and include race, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, religion, color, pregnancy, and genetic information.

Keep in mind interns and independent contractors are not protected under federal guidelines, nor are employees of companies with fewer than 15 employees. State and local laws vary for these groups, so if you fall into one of these categories and believe you are a victim of discrimination, speak with a legal expert.

3. Your Employer Can Restrict and Monitor Your Internet Activity, Social Media, and Communication on the Job.

It is important for summer employees to understand their job responsibilities and know what they can and cannot do while on the job. Your employer has a right to restrict your use of cell phones and other devices that allow access to the Internet during work hours. After all, they are paying you to work, not to interact with friends. If your employer does permit Internet access during work hours and you use an employer-owner device to access it, make sure you understand what sites are permitted and restricted under their guidelines. Your best bet is to assume your actions are being monitored while on the job, so you should never do anything you would not want someone to see.

4. You Might Have Limits on Your Job Opportunities.

Depending on your age, there might be legal limits on the work you are permitted to do. This is one instance in which “age discrimination” is allowed, but the laws are in place to protect the employee. For instance, children under 16 years of age are not permitted to work in manufacturing or any occupation considered hazardous. There might also be limits regarding work in the grocery and food preparation industry for younger employees.

5. You Should Familiarize Yourself with Your Employee Handbook.

Most companies provide written information about their policies and procedures. Make sure you read and understand the material provided to you and request additional information from HR if necessary.

Entering the working world for the first time is exciting, but problems can arise. If you need legal advice regarding your summer job, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. with your questions or to schedule a free consultation.

 

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