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Watch for It! New Rules for Young Workers Coming into Effect in BC this Fall

August 5, 2021

What to Expect

On October 15, 2021, BC’s Employment Standards Act will be amended to add additional rules and protections for workers under 16 in the province.

The most significant change being made is to increase the general working age from 12 to 16 years old, bringing BC in line with the rest of Canada.

Children Ages 12 to 13

A child employment permit will need to be obtained in order for children ages 12 and 13 to work, except in a few limited circumstances (including working in sports events, on a family farm or business, or in the entertainment industry).

In no circumstances are children permitted to perform any tasks that are not considered “light work” (see below), and parent or guardian permission is required.

Children Ages 14 and 15

In addition to the exceptions for work for children ages 12 and 13 (including working for a family business), youth ages 14 and 15 will be permitted to participate in light work, with permission from their parents or guardian.

Jobs and examples of “light work” include the following:

·         Administrative and secretarial work

·         Cashier

·         Golf caddy

·         Messenger or courier

·         Babysitting

·         Yard and maintenance work

·         Performing artist

·         Referee or umpire

·         Server of food or drink, other than alcohol

·         Summer or day camp leader

·         Visual artist or graphic designer

·         Computer programmer

·         Lifeguard or lifeguard assistant

·         Peer counsellor

·         Recreation or community program attendant

·         Salesperson, other than door-to-door

·         Sports or recreational coach or instructor

·         Tutor or instructor

·         Writer, editor or similar

The above list is not exhaustive.

Youth under 16 will generally not be permitted to do work that is considered harmful to their health, safety or development, which includes:

·         repairing, maintaining or operating heavy machinery, tools, or other equipment that could harm the child;

·         entering or working at locations where a minor is not legally permitted to enter;

·         construction sites, heavy manufacturing and heavy industrial work;

·         sites designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere;

·         walk-in freezers or coolers, other than to place or retrieve an item;

·         handling substances that minors cannot legally purchase, use, distribute or consume;

·         lifting, carrying or moving heavy items or animals that put the child at risk of injury; and

·         using, handling or applying hazardous chemicals or substances, such as pesticides.

The rules for workers 16 or older, and under 12, are not impacted by the changes described above, although employers are reminded that there are various requirements for hiring young people, including in relation to hours of work, and special care should be given when hiring young workers.

Call us to discuss how you can implement these new legislative requirements!