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Working Wise: Employing Young Workers

Dear Working Wise,

I’m adding an outdoor patio to my café this summer and need a little extra help. I am considering hiring my nephew, but I’m wondering if there are any issues related to hiring a 14-year old?
Signed, Anxious Owner

June 8, 2016

Dear Concerned,

Young workers are covered by the same employment standards, such as holiday pay and minimum wage, as other workers, but there are some special rules employers should know when it comes to employing people under the age of 18.

The restrictions for young workers involve hours of work and supervision. To learn more, visit the Alberta Employment Standards website and click on the Employees Under Age 18 fact sheet or call the Alberta Employment Standards Contact Centre at 1-877-427-3731 (780-427-3731 in Edmonton).

Adolescent Albertans, aged 12-14, can work in the following approved jobs

  • office messenger or clerk
  • delivery person (e.g., flyers, flowers)
  • retail store clerk (e.g., music store)
  • certain jobs in the restaurant and food-service industry, with restrictions.

Adolescents may host/hostess, cashier, wash dishes, bus tables, wait tables, provide customer service, assemble orders and clean. But, they can not accept work that may harm their life, health, education or welfare. For these reasons, adolescents cannot

  • sell liquor in licensed premises
  • work between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • work during normal school hours
  • work without continuous adult supervision
  • work for longer than 2 hours on a school day
  • work for longer than 8 hours on a non-school day
  • use or work near dangerous equipment such as deep fryers, grills or slicers.

Adolescents may be able to take on other jobs, but the employer must first apply for a Permit to Employ an Adolescent through Alberta Employment Standards.

Employers and parents are responsible for ensuring that adolescents are competent and safe. Parents must give the employer written consent before employment begins.

Employers are required by the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code to keep young workers safe by

  • completing a written hazard assessment
  • controlling or eliminating all safety hazards
  • ensuring the health and safety of the employee
  • warning the adolescent about any hazards that may affect him or her

Teens, aged 15 to 17, have fewer restrictions and are free to take on more types of jobs, but they are subject to special conditions as well.

For tips on keeping younger workers safe at work, visit the Occupational Health and Safety website and click on Young Workers.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/mangostock

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