Employment standards rules – Youth employment laws

Employees under 18 years old have specific rules under Alberta’s laws.

Basic rules

  • There are restrictions on the jobs that people under 18 years old can do.
    • Some jobs for people 14 years old and younger require a government permit. This varies by age group and type of work.
    • People aged 14 and under need to get a parent or guardian's permission to work.
  • There are also restrictions on the hours when people under 18 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.
    • The rules listed on this page don’t apply to working on farms and ranches. Youth follow the same rules as other farm and ranch employees.
  • All employees, including those 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 employees in Alberta, employers of people under 18 years old need to perform hazard assessments and control workplace hazards.

Employees 12 years of age and under

  • 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 Adolescent employment permit.

Employees 13 to 14 years of age

Parent or guardian consent is required for all jobs.

Employment is only allowed if it does not have a negative impact on the life, health, education or welfare of the employee.

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
  • light janitorial work in offices
  • tutorial
  • coach for a recreational athletic club or association
  • food service employee in a restaurant or other establishment where food is prepared and served or sold, see Restaurant and food services industry

An Employment Standards permit is required to employ people 13 to 14 years of age in an artistic endeavour, or work that is not listed above.

For more information on applying for a permit for those age 13 to 14, see Adolescent employment permit.

Restaurant and food services industry

People age 13 or 14 can do the following jobs:

  • host/hostess
  • cashier
  • dish washer
  • bussing or cleaning tables
  • server or waiter
  • providing customer service
  • assembling food orders
  • sweeping and mopping in common areas

Employers of food service employees aged 13 or 14 must ensure that employees are under continuous adult supervision.

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 pm and 12 am with adult supervision. They can't work between 12:01 am and 6 am.

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

People 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 performances/entertainment industry
    • theatre plays
    • musical performances

Self-employed and contractors

As with all other workers, people under 18 years old are only covered by Employment Standards rules if they are employees. This means that the rules don’t apply to people under 18 years old 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 shovelling
  • 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 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.

Additional rules

It is important to remember that all Employment Standards and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation applies to the employment of people under 18.

To learn more about other employment standards rules, see Alberta employment standards rules.

To learn more about OHS requirements, see the Occupational health and safety starter kit

How the law applies

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

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