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B.C.’s minimum working age going from 12 to 16 in October

Some recreation, farm, administrative, retail jobs allowed at 14
B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains takes questions from reporters at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 20, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Changes to B.C. labour laws to limit employment to age 16 and older will take effect Oct. 15, more than two years after Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced legislation that limits younger people to only “light work” such as stocking shelves, dishwashing and farm and yard work.

Bains said Wednesday the province is moving ahead with regulations this fall after extensive consultation with young people, parents and employers.

The new rules also permit children to babysit, deliver newspapers part-time or perform in recorded and live entertainment. Children aged 12 and older can continue to be employed in a business or farm owned by an immediate family member, as long as the work meets safety criteria set out on the regulation.

“Prior to these changes, B.C. was the only province in Canada that allowed the employment of children as young as 12,” Bains said in a statement July 21. “In some cases, this involved hazardous situations or environments, such as construction sites or heavy-industry settings. As a result, young workers are injured on the job every year, with WorkSafeBC data reporting more than $1.1 million paid in job-related disability claims for workers 14 or younger between 2007 and 2016.”

Youth aged 14 and 15 will be able to do 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.

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Examples of light work appropriate for 14 and 15 year olds include:

• recreation and sports club work, such as lifeguard, coach, golf caddy, camp counsellor, referee and umpire;

• light farm and yard work, such as gardening, harvesting by hand, clearing leaves and snow, and grass cutting;

• administrative and secretarial work;

• retail work, such as stocking shelves, packaging orders, laying out displays, sales and cashier;

• food service work, such as busing tables, preparing food, dishwashing and serving food and non-alcoholic drinks; and

• skilled and technical work, such as computer programmer, visual artists, graphic designer, writer and editor.


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