Minimum legal age of employment in Canada : Distinct regulations across provinces
Saskatchewan has just implemented a legal minimum age of employment, i.e. 16 years of age. Such a provision does not exist everywhere in Canada, as applicable policies differ substantially from one province or territory to another. Here’s an overview.
It is now necessary to be at least 16 years of age to work in Saskatchewan. Before May 2009, only five sectors had a minimum age for hiring young people: hotel, restaurants, schools, hospitals and nursing homes. The new legislation aims to promote schooling, while allowing young people to get a bit of work experience. Under certain conditions, though, 14-year-olds can work: by obtaining the consent of their parents or guardians, taking occupational health and safety training, not working any later than 10 p.m. if they have school the next day, before school starts on a school day, and more than 16 hours during a school week. Moreover, the new law will continue to restrict employment of young people in casinos, in the sale, handling or serving of alcohol, and in certain high-risk occupations.
In Canada, various laws contain restrictions concerning the employment of young people. They aim to guarantee the primacy of education and to keep young people in school during the years when basic knowledge is acquired. Their objective is also to protect the development of young people (their growth, as well as the development of their characters), and their health and safety. Federally, the Canada Labour Code allows young people under 17 years of age to work only if they are not required to go to school as per their usual province of residence, if the work to be done is not in a prohibited category (e.g. underground mine), and if it does not endanger their health and safety. It is also forbidden to have them work between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Other provisions regulate particular sectors, such as the merchant marine or explosives plants, for example.
Minimum legal age of employment across Canada
– In Alberta, teenagers can work as of the age of 12, but only under certain conditions: outside of normal class hours, with the written consent of a parent or guardian, and with the approval of the Director of Labour Standards. Between 12 and 14 years of age, they are only allowed to work at certain jobs such as clerk or delivery person of small wares for a retail store, clerk or messenger in an office, delivery person for the distribution of newspapers, flyers or handbills. For any other type of work, they need the approval of the Director of Labour Standards. They are allowed to work on school days, but no more than two hours.
– In British Columbia, children can work before the age of 12, with the permission of the Director of Labour Standards, who will determine the conditions of employment. Between 12 and 14, the parents’ consent is sufficient provided the employer observes certain restrictions (no work during school hours, for instance). The province allows working on school days, but no longer than four hours.
– On Prince Edward Island, it is possible to work before 16 years of age. The Youth Employment Act specifies, though, that an adolescent under 16 cannot hold a job that could harm his or her health, safety, moral or physical development. It is also forbidden to work more than three hours on a school day, to work in construction, between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and during normal school hours (children are required to go to school until 16 years of age). The Labour Standards Inspector may excuse adolescents from these restrictions as long as their school attendance does not suffer, with the consent of a parent or guardian.
– In Manitoba, youth under 16 years of age may also work, subject to certain conditions: obtain a permit from the Director of Labour Standards manager, not work for a company in which his or her safety, health or welfare could be jeopardized, in the Director’s opinion, and not work in a job where a large part of the cleaning, modification, repair or maintenance is done using machinery.
– In New Brunswick, youth under 14 years of age cannot work at jobs that are likely to be unwholesome or harmful to their health, welfare, moral or physical development. These restrictions also apply to young people under 16. Adolescents under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in any industrial undertaking, in the forestry industry, in the construction industry, in a garage or service station, in a hotel or restaurant, in a theatre, dance hall or shooting gallery, or as an elevator operator, unless a permit has been issued by the Director of Employment Standards. On school days, work is limited to three hours at most.
– In Nova Scotia, the restrictions imposed on adolescents of less than 14 years of age are comparable with those in effect in New Brunswick, i.e. work for an industrial undertaking, forestry industry, etc., and also apply to youth under 16 years of age.
– In Ontario, youth under 14 years of age cannot work in an industrial establishment. Under the age of 15, they cannot work in a factory, and under the age of 16, they cannot work in on a construction site, in the forestry industry, or an open-pit mine. They are also not allowed to work during school hours.
– In Quebec, youth under 14 years of age are not allowed to work without the written consent of the parent or guardian. If they are under 16 years of age, they cannot work in an open-pit mine, a milling facility or a workshop, or apprentice in a trade or profession regulated by law.
For more specific information and/or concerning other provinces or territories: www.hrsdc.gc.ca