New rules protect young workers. (

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Ministry of Labour

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Protecting B.C.’s youngest workers

In spring 2019, government passed amendments to the Employment Standards Act to ensure B.C.’s employment standards are applied evenly, properly enforced and reflect the evolving needs of workers and employers.

A key feature of the amendments was improving protections for children in the workforce by limiting the types of work children under 16 can undertake. Light work was defined after public and stakeholder engagement.

The engagement received extensive feedback from parents, employers and young people about how best to protect children in the workplace and what types of jobs or duties are safe for children under the age of 16. The resulting regulations have carefully considered the need to ensure youth are employed safely, without restricting important activities, such as sports coaching or working on family farms and businesses.

Occupations that are now prescribed as light work appropriate for youth 14 and 15 include:

  • Cashier
  • Golf caddy
  • Messenger or courier
  • 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

Occupations or situations that are now generally treated as unsafe for youth under 16 include:

  • repairing, maintaining or operating heavy machinery;
  • places where a minor is not 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 or distribute;
  • lifting, carrying or moving heavy items or animals; and
  • using, handling or applying hazardous substances, such as pesticides.