Basic rules

  • There are restrictions on the jobs that young workers can do.
    • Some jobs for youth require a government permit. This varies by age group and type of work.
    • Youth aged 14 and under need to get a parent or guardian's permission to work.
  • There are also restrictions on the hours when young workers are allowed to work.
  • There are some important exceptions:
    • Rules for youth employment only apply to employees, not self-employed contractors or volunteers. For more details, see Self-Employed and Contractors.
    • There are different rules for students in an approved training course or integrated learning program.
    • Rules on employing youth don’t apply to work on farms and ranches
  • Regardless of age, all employees under 18 years of age are entitled to the minimum standards of employment, such as general holidays, vacations, minimum wage and termination notice or pay.
  • As with all workers in Alberta, employers of young people need to perform hazard assessments and control workplace hazards.

Employees 12 years of age and under

Until December 31, 2018 employees who are 12 years of age follow the same rules as employees aged 13 to 14.

Beginning January 1, 2019 there will be updated rules for employees aged 12 and under. The updated rules are listed below.

  • May only be employed in an artistic endeavour.
    • A permit is required for work in artistic endeavours.
    • Allowable hours of work and any other restrictions will be determined during the permit approval process.
  • Parent or guardian consent is required.

For more information on applying for a permit for those aged 12 and under, see Youth Permit.

Employees 13 to 14 years of age

  • May be employed in:
  • Any of the following jobs without a permit:
    • clerk or messenger in an office or retail store
    • delivery person for small goods and merchandise for a retail store
    • delivering flyers, newspapers and handbills or
    • certain duties in the restaurant/food services industry, see Restaurant/Food Services Industry
    • An artistic endeavour, with a permit from Employment Standards
    • Work not listed above with a permit from Employment Standards.

For more information on applying for a permit for those age 13-14, see Youth Permits.

Restaurant and food services industry

Youth who are age 13 or 14 can do some jobs in the restaurant/food services industry under an Director’s Approval of an Occupation.

Youth age 13 or 14 can do the following jobs:

  • host/hostess
  • cashier
  • dish washer
  • bussing tables
  • server or waiter
  • providing customer service
  • assembling food orders
  • cleaning

Youth who are age 13 or 14 cannot:

  • use deep fryers, slicers, grills or other potentially dangerous equipment, or work where such equipment is used
  • work with or near any moving vehicles
  • work in areas where smoking is permitted

Employers of youth who are age 13 or 14 must ensure that:

  • young workers are under continuous adult supervision
  • a Safety Checklist is completed and submitted to Employment Standards

Completed safety checklists must be submitted to Employment Standards and kept on file at the work site.

Restrictions on hours of work

  • Employees between 13 and 14 years have the following restrictions on hours of work:
    • can’t work between 9 pm and 6 am
    • can't work during school hours, unless they're enrolled in an off-campus education program
    • can only work up to 2 hours outside of regular school hours, on school days
    • can work up to 8 hours on non-school days

Employees aged 15 to 17

May be employed in any type of work:

  • No permits are required
  • Parent or guardian consent is only required to work during restricted hours

Restrictions on hours of work

Employees who are 15 years of age cannot work during regular school hours unless enrolled in an off-campus education program.

Employees 15 to 17 years of age who work in retail or hospitality (as listed below) can only work between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. with adult supervision. They can't work between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Employees 15 to 17 years of age who work in jobs that are not in retail or hospitality can work between 12:01 am and 6:00 am. However, they require:

  • parental or guardian consent
  • adult supervision

Retail includes selling any of the following:

  • any food or beverages
  • any other commodities, goods, wares or merchandise
  • gasoline, diesel fuel, propane or any other product of petroleum or natural gas

Hospitality includes hotels, motels or any place that provides overnight accommodation to the public.

Artistic endeavours

Youth under age 15 are required to get a permit to work in artistic endeavours.

An artistic endeavour means work in:

  • recorded entertainment
    • film, radio, video or television
    • television and radio commercials
  • voice recordings for video and computer gaming
  • live performancesentertainment industry
    • theatre plays
    • musical performances

Self-employed and contractors

As with all other workers, young workers are only covered by Employment Standards rules if they are employees. This means that the rules don’t apply to youth who are self-employed or working as independent contractors or who are volunteering.

This may include, but is not limited to, casual work such as:

  • Babysitting
  • Snow shoveling
  • Lawn cutting

For the same type of work, such as refereeing, some workers may be true employees, while others may be doing it casually or as a self-employed contractor. The important thing is not the type of job; it is whether the young worker is a true employee.

In employment relationships, employees provide services to employers for pay. Employers typically make mandatory deductions and provide entitlements such as vacation time/vacation pay.

Hazardous assessments

It is important to remember that all Employment Standards and Occupational Health and Safety legislation applies to the employment of youth.

This continues to include the requirement for all employers to perform hazard assessments. Resources are available to help employers understand the process of doing hazard assessments:

The sample hazard assessment form is available to help employers to complete hazard assessments. Employers are responsible for understanding the rules. Reading the assessment and control guide is strongly encouraged.

Identifying hazards is just the first step in being safe at work. Employers are responsible for continually measuring risks and developing appropriate controls of hazards.

How the law applies

Part 2, Division 9 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) and Part 5 of the Regulation outline the rules for employing youth under 18.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.


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