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11.05.2023 10:04

Your child is going to work in the summer – what support can you give?

It’s great when young people get their first summer job. Do you know what shifts and work duties have been agreed on? Below is a list of hints on how you can support a young person.

The rules of working life apply to young people in summer jobs in the same way as other workers. Some aspects can get overlooked, however.

Last summer, Aliisa Railanmaa, 16, had a summer job in a lunch restaurant with a summer job voucher from the City of Helsinki. In return for a voucher worth 325 euros, the employer offers the young person 60 hours of work 60 and pay of 400 euros.

–  My mum asked for the phone number of a restaurant owner she knows slightly. I called the restaurant owner myself and fixed up a summer job, Aliisa says.

High school student Aliisa’s mother Justyna Koniczek continues:

–  And I was happy that we were able to get Aliisa her first summer job so easily.

1. Insist on a written employment contract

The employment contract states what the work duties are, the working hours, pay, length of the employment relationship, the notice period and the applicable collective agreement. The contract does not have to be signed on the spot – the young person can tell their employer that they will first study the contract, sign it and then return it.

A written employment contract protects you against all sorts of possible problems. Aliisa and her mother didn’t  think of asking for a written employment contract because the pay and the working hours were as specified in the summer job voucher. A written employment contract would have been useful, however.

–  I didn’t know what my work duties would be. It was a nasty surprise that the work was mostly washing-up because I thought I was going to get experience of working as a waitress, for example, Aliisa says.

2. Ask the young person what their job involves

Getting a job involves lots of things that a young person needs to know about. How are work shifts announced, what breaks are there during the day, what orientation training is given? What do you do if you fall ill? Ask young people about things like this.

Washing up didn’t take much orientation training. Aliisa’s employer sent her a  WhatsApp to say what her working days and shifts were. She found out about the breaks, benefits and other details when she starting working.

–  The working day was six hours and there was one break. Although I could leave my post to have a drink or go to the toilet. It was good that my employer provided lunch, so I didn’t have to bring a lunchbox.

Aliisa worked in the restaurant in her own clothes. She only found out about this on the first day. One day Aliisa went to work wearing a sleeveless top only to find out that it wasn’t allowed.

–  Young people don’t think about things like what sort of clothes they can wear at work. It would be important for employers to provide guidance on that sort of thing, says Aliisa’s mother.

3. Encourage young people to ask about things that are unclear

Employers are responsible for providing orientation training and telling young people what the rules are at the workplace. Parents can encourage young people to ask about these things. You could make a list of questions to make it easier for your child to raise issues with their employer.

Parents can support young people behind the scenes by asking them about their job and the practical arrangements at the workplace. One place to find hints and tips on how to support young people is PAM’s summer job checklist.

–  I have encouraged Aliisa to take responsibility and be active in her summer job. Maybe I left her on her own a bit too much to work it all out.

Aliisa is going back to the same job this summer. Since the first summer was a bit of a disappointment, Aliisa’s mother has now encouraged her to come straight to the point.

–  I have now encouraged Aliisa to be active so that she can do something else than just washing up. Apparently this has already been discussed.

4. Encourage: record working hours, check payslips, ask for an employment certificate

You can record work shifts in the calendar on your phone, for example. It’s important for young people to learn to check that their wages and supplements have been paid correctly. When their job ends, it’s up to the young person themselves to request an employment certificate.

If you have a record of your hours, it’s easy to check your payslip to see if your wages and supplements have been paid correctly. When an employment relationship ends, an employer is required to provide an employment certificate if requested.

Aliisa still hasn’t had an employment certificate.

–  I asked for one in the last days of my summer job and I asked again in the winter. They’ve promised me a certificate, but I still haven’t got it.

 5. If a young person has problems, tell them they are not alone

You can run into nasty surprises in a summer job. A young person’s shifts are cancelled because they didn’t get proper orientation training in using equipment or wages are paid incorrectly. You can ask fellow workers or the shop steward for help.

Often problems can be solved if your child has the courage to raise the issue at the workplace. If there is a shop steward at the workplace, he or she will help summer workers with employment-related issues.

Parents also have an important role to play.

–  I have also got better at finding out about things, giving Aliisa information and telling her that she also has rights as a worker, says Aliisa’s mother.

If your child starts a summer job in a shop, restaurant, kiosk, fast food restaurant, amusement park or in property services, Service United PAM looks after summer workers’ rights and makes sure collective agreements are complied with at the workplace.

Trade union membership provides security for summer workers too. It pays to join right at the start of your employment. Read more about PAM membership.