Are Businesses Taking Advantage of Teenage Workers?


Faith Casey, Staff Reporter

Teenagers are being overworked and exploited by businesses. Employment has been an issue for many small establishments during the Covid-19 pandemic. One way businesses have been combating this, willingly or unwillingly, is by taking advantage of their teenage employees.  


If teenagers are being overworked, there is a large possibility of mental health decline. According to Mental Health America, depression levels in adolescents are increasing, and one in five teens suffers from major depression. The main stressor for many teens is balancing school work with extracurricular activities and a social life, while also trying to live up to the expectations of their family, peers, and teachers. How can businesses expect teens to work over three shifts a week and still be able to prioritize school and maintain their mental health? 


While employers may not be doing this willingly, it is still unacceptable that teenagers feel they need to give up extracurricular and free time for their jobs. Many teens do not know how to advocate for themselves, resulting in them taking these shifts out of guilt or pressure. 


 Tacitly, business owners take advantage of their workers by exploiting their 18-year-olds. Now that these employees are legal adults, employers schedule them as often as possible and legally get away with it. Becoming an “adult” does not erase any mental health concerns, especially if they are still in high school. 


 More so, teenagers are still kids. Turning 16 does not mean high school students are ready to work every day. It is almost impossible to balance the stress of school and everyday life when one is working three plus shifts a week.


Some may say that this is the only hope for many small businesses. Granted, this is a rough time for many businesses all over the world, but that does not make overworking teenagers who are going through one of the most mentally challenging parts of their life right. It is still as inhumane as before Covid hit. 


Overworking can affect other parts of an employee’s life. Lack of sleep is a common product of too much work. Not getting the recommended amount of sleep every night can be mentally draining and harmful to one’s physical health. Common symptoms for lack of sleep include low concentration and mood changes. 


 Therefore, owners, managers, supervisors, and all management positions should respect employees as employees should respect management. Leadership should be courteous of a worker’s time off, schedule, and personal life, and workers should do the same.


Teen employees: If the job you work at is struggling to find new employees, help them out by asking around. Do not push yourself to work more than you can because your manager or boss asks you to. Learning to stand up for yourself is important, and although your bosses may not like it at first, you should not let them overwork you. 


Businesses: Remember that your teenage employees are human, too. They have enough going on already. The last thing they need is to go to work every day after school then come home and complete all the homework they have.The only exception is if your teenage employees  are voluntarily working extra hours. But even then, you should still be keeping up with them to ensure they are not pushing themselves too far. 


It is time that teenage workers stand up for themselves, for we are not any less human and deserve respect in the workplace regardless of age.