Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Demand high for teen workers

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Scott Richardson likes the enthusiasm of the teenage employees he hires at Eddie's Burgers & Frozen Custard in Kaimuki.

Eddie's Burgers & Frozen Custard manager Scott Richardson, right, helps Darren Delos Reyes, 23, prepare burgers at the Kaimuki shop. Richardson is 19 and was an employee himself just two years ago.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

Sure, they tend to want a lot of time off. But their youthful energy more than makes up for the scheduling headaches that constantly arise, Richardson said.

And perhaps one of Eddie's eight teenage workers — out of 12 total employees — will show the same kind of motivation and work ethic that transformed Richardson from a mere employee two years ago to the store's manager.

Richardson himself is just 19.

He represents what could be in store for other Hawai'i teens this summer as a growing economy creates more part-time openings.

"It's definitely a good summer for teenagers," said Susan Afan, who is in charge of the Honolulu branch of OfficeTeam, a temporary staffing service.

Afan conservatively estimates that Hawai'i will see a 20 percent to 25 percent expansion of temporary jobs this summer and that teenagers, in particular, will be in high demand.

"The outlook is very good because the employment market is finally changing for the positive," Afan said.

The demand for temporary, teenage workers has only increased this summer despite legislation last year that changed Hawai'i's child labor laws and reduced the number of daily work hours from four to three for 14- and 15-year-olds.

The legislation made Hawai'i consistent with federal labor laws that restrict 14- and 15-year-old work hours to 18 hours per week, or six shifts of three hours.

The change has had little affect on Hawai'i businesses that clearly are looking harder for teenage workers.

Job rules for teenagers

• 14- and 15-year-olds: Maximum of three work hours per day for a total of 18 hours per week while school is in session. Maximum of eight hours per day when not in school. Cannot work in hazardous conditions or with power tools and equipment. Job applications must be signed by parent or guardian.

• 16- and 17-year-olds: Can work more than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.

• 14- to 17-year-olds must have work permits. Apply for work permits at the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Wage Standards Division, commonly known as the Child Labor Office, or via the Web at www.dlir.state.hi.us and click the link for "child labor application."

• No hour or wage limits on children working in their parents' business.

Source: State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Hawai'i's 42 Pizza Hut restaurants each need an average of three to four employees this summer and five more for the company's call center, said Gaynell Dela Cruz, Pizza Hut's field training manager.

Workers, who are younger than 18 years old, earn the minimum wage of $6.25 per hour to make pizzas, take phone orders and ring up sales, Dela Cruz said. Pizza delivery drivers must be 18 years old, she said.

Good Pizza Hut employees can keep coming back each summer or continue working throughout the year after school, Dela Cruz said.

"We hope they'll stay on with us after they continue their education," Dela Cruz said. "We also want to help the kids out because they do need money."

Lane Muraoka loves to see the same spark in teenage job candidates that he had as a 16-year-old, when he got his first job as a dishwasher at the old Flamingo Chuckwagon in 1978.

Muraoka, 41, now owns O'ahu's three Big City Diners.

"You get guys who come in with slippers, covered in sand, who don't even have a pen and just show up expecting to get a (job) interview," Muraoka said. "Then you see some 16-year-olds who come in dressed up like they're going to church."

The other day, Muraoka interviewed a 17-year-old job candidate "who never really had a job except delivering newspapers," Muraoka said. "But he's motivated and he'll do anything."

Hiring teenage help definitely has a downside, Muraoka said.

"You can spend a lot of time and money training someone," Muraoka said. "For a small company, it can be difficult because you want them to be there as many hours as possible. But you only get them for a few months and then the summer's over."

But Muraoka loves to find good employees — no matter what their age.

"It doesn't matter if they're 16 or 26," Muraoka said. "There are always good people out there who have good values and will work hard."

Devin Thomas, 17, certainly found a welcoming job market when he recently applied for work after getting his high school equivalency degree from Kalaheo High School.

He applied at four businesses and got job offers from two of them.

After working as a lot boy at a car dealership, Thomas quit to pursue his skateboard passion as one of the newest employees at 808 Skate in Kailua.

"All of my friends are looking for jobs right now," he said, "and a bunch of them got them already."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8085.