Employers are reminded that changes to employment standards that better protect young people will be in force on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.
The changes raise the general working age in British Columbia from 12 to 16 and define the types of jobs that are appropriate for those under 16.
Youth aged 14 and 15 are able to do many "appropriate" jobs defined as “light work” with permission from a parent or guardian. In some cases, children aged 14 and 15 may be permitted to do work outside the definition of light work with a permit from the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards Branch.
The new rules do not prevent children from babysitting or delivering newspapers part time, or students from working in a work-study or work experience class, which are among the jobs excluded from the new rules.
Children aged 12 and older can continue to be employed in a business or on a farm owned by an immediate family member, as long as the work meets the safety criteria set out in the regulation.
Occupations that are now prescribed as light work appropriate for youth 14 and 15 include:
- computer programmer
- golf caddy
- lifeguard or lifeguard assistant
- messenger or courier
- peer counsellor
- performing artist
- recreation or community program attendant
- referee or umpire
- salesperson, other than door-to-door
- server of food or drink, other than alcohol
- sports or recreational coach or instructor
- summer or day camp leader
- tutor or instructor
- visual artist or graphic designer
- writer, editor or similar
Occupations or situations that are now generally considered as unsafe for youth under 16 include:
- repairing, maintaining or operating heavy machinery
- places where a minor is not permitted to enter
- sites of construction, heavy manufacturing, 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
- using, handling or applying hazardous substances like pesticides
These changes to the Employment Standards Act were initiated through legislation in the spring of 2019. Consultations were held with over 1,700 youth, parents and employers from multiple sectors before prior to finalizing the changes this year.
These new rules bring British Columbia in line with international standards for children’s employment. Prior to these changes, B.C. was the only province in Canada whose general minimum working age was as young as 12.