Protecting teens and volunteers at your practice
The Fair Labor Standards Act restricts work hours for youths ages 14 and 15. They may only work outside school hours up to:
In addition, federal law restricts minors from involvement in hazardous jobs. In a veterinary practice these may include:
From a liability standpoint, the practice must provide volunteers with the same on-the-job protection as paid employees. Although a volunteer would not be covered under the practice's workers' compensation insurance, if injured on practice property, he or she would probably be eligible for compensation from the general liability insurance policy. And the hourly restrictions mentioned earlier also apply to volunteers who are minors.
It's a good idea to work with established organizations such as the Red Cross when using volunteers. These volunteers have often completed an orientation process, so a certain amount of liability is shared with the organization. What's more, the volunteer gets verifiable credit for his or her work if it's ever needed for civic awards or academic achievement.
Don't let all these laws scare you off. Young people and volunteers can make meaningful contributions to your practice—and enjoy the experience. Just make sure you follow the rules.
Philip Seibert, CVT, is an author, speaker, and consultant with Veterinary Practice Consultants in Calhoun, Tenn. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org