RENO, Nev., June 24, 2014 – Summer jobs at local restaurants, retail stores, medical offices and many other small businesses may be hard to come by for student workers this summer. A new poll of small business owners by EMPLOYERS® (NYSE: EIG), America's small business insurance specialist®, found that only one in five (19 percent) are planning to hire student workers this summer. Summer jobs at small businesses will remain flat compared to last year.
EMPLOYERS Small Business Opinion Poll Snapshot:
- 19 percent of small businesses are planning to hire student workers this summer
- 27 percent of small businesses do not offer workplace safety training for new student workers
- 52 percent of small businesses that intend to hire students this summer require they go through workplace safety training
Small businesses that plan to hire students this summer don’t anticipate much difficulty finding employees. Three-fourths of them said they expect finding a student worker to be easy. Small businesses value students because of their flexible schedules (33 percent), lower pay rate (27 percent) and ability to bring fresh ideas (14 percent).
Most small businesses that are hiring this summer are looking to fill clerical or office work positions (42 percent) or need help with construction work or manual labor (41 percent). Only 13 percent plan to fill restaurant or food service positions and only 4 percent are hiring for retail jobs.
Among business owners, there is greater demand for college students than high school students. More than half (53 percent) of small business owners plan to hire college students this summer, followed by 39 percent who are looking for high school students. Only 6 percent anticipate hiring a post-graduate student.
<strong>Workplace Safety Training for Students Often Overlooked
“Many small businesses don’t recognize the risks associated with student workers and don’t provide any type of workplace safety training,” said EMPLOYERS Chief Operating Officer Stephen V. Festa. “Even though they may be temporary, these workers are eligible for the same workers’ compensation benefits as full-time employees if they get injured or ill on the job.”
More than one out of four small business owners polled (27 percent) said they do not offer workplace safety training for new student workers they employ. Among those who do offer it, only half (52 percent) say that it is required.
Small businesses that employ students may overlook workplace safety training due to a false sense of security. “Last summer, only three percent of business owners who hired students reported that they had one get injured or ill on the job,” Festa explained. “While a low incident rate is good news, overlooking workplace safety is a poor business decision. By creating a culture of safety, costly employee injuries may be prevented.”
Festa recommends small business owners follow these four steps to ensure the safety of all their employees:
- Identify and assess potential hazards: Business owners and managers should take time to identify and document potential hazards as well as put proper safety procedures in place before employees use equipment or materials. For example, rubber-soled shoes should be worn by all employees in restaurants or warehouses where floors are slippery. Documenting these procedures is especially important because it establishes a record that can be referenced in the event of an OSHA inspection or insurance audit.
- Provide education and training: Business owners should regularly provide all workers with information and training on their injury and illness prevention programs. It is especially important that training sessions are held whenever new substances, processes, procedures or equipment are introduced into the workplace. Training should include how to identify potential hazards, how to prevent common accidents and what to do if one occurs. Workers must be trained in a language that they understand, especially in a bilingual environment.