Employers, parents, young people and the public are invited to share their views on how best to protect children in the workplace by providing feedback on what types of jobs or work duties are safe for children to perform as part of their employment.
Until recently, there have been few limits on conditions for children and youth, allowing them to perform jobs in hazardous situations or environments, including operation of heavy machinery like industrial saws. As a result, young workers are injured on the job every year, with WorkSafeBC data reporting over $1.1 million paid in job-related disability claims for workers aged 14 years or younger between 2007 and 2017.
To better protect children and youth, the B.C. government passed amendments to the Employment Standards Act in May 2019 that raise the minimum working age from 12 to 16 years, with 14- and 15-year-olds allowed to perform light work. Regulations will be developed based on this engagement process, which is required before the amendments come into effect.
Government is looking for input to define light work so young people can gain valuable work experience and earn some money while ensuring the safety of their health and development. The public engagement is open until Friday, Nov. 15.
In other jurisdictions, the definition of light work for young people includes examples like a clerk or messenger in an office or retail store, delivery person for small goods and merchandise and delivering flyers, as well as certain duties in the restaurant industry including host, cashier, dishwasher, busser and server.
Through an online questionnaire, B.C. will be looking at these areas and others in defining light work. For instance, the questionnaire asks for feedback on whether some jobs should be exempt from the age restrictions, like working for a family business, on a family farm or a neighbour’s farm, or in jobs such as refereeing.
Certain jobs are already exempt from age restrictions in B.C., including: babysitters, newspaper carriers, performers in recorded and live entertainment, and students in work-study programs. These jobs will not be affected by the new age requirements or rules around light work.
To ensure young voices are heard on this topic, people under 19 years of age are also encouraged to provide feedback. Details about how to participate, including a link to the questionnaire, can be found online: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/childemployment/
Improving fairness for workers and ensuring balance in workplaces are shared priorities between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and are part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.