Changes for Youth Employment in B.C.

Posted:  Nov 3, 2021

The provincial government has made changes to the B.C. Employment Standards Act primarily through raising the minimum working age of youth for most jobs in the province from 12 to 16. This move is intended to bring British Columbia in line with child labour standards of other developed nations as well as other provinces in the country. 

The changes, effective since Oct. 15th, are designed to provide better protections for employed youth, while also allowing lawmakers to define the types of employment and jobs suitable for those under the age of 16.

The changes to the Employment Standards Act were first introduced in the provincial legislature in 2019, following consultations with over 1,700 youth, parents and employers from multiple sectors across the province. These amendments also followed publicized information that WorkSafeBC had paid a total of $5.2 million in work injury claims to employed children 15 years and under from 2007 to 2017. 

Under the new legislation, youth aged 14 and 15 are still permitted to perform certain types of jobs that the government considers to be “light work”. Permission from a parent or guardian will be required for youth aged 14 and 15 to perform these jobs. In some cases, children aged 14 and 15 may also be allowed to do work outside that definition, but only with a permit from the Ministry of Labour's Employment Standards Branch. 

The government's website lays out new age groups, as well as which types of work are permitted for each age group. The following jobs fall under the umbrella of light work permitted for youth aged 14 to 15 years,


  • Referee or umpire.

  • Computer programmer.

  • Salesperson, other than door-to-door.

  • Server of food or drink, other than alcohol.

  • Sports or recreational coach or instructor.

  • Golf caddy.

  • Lifeguard or lifeguard assistant.

  • Messenger or courier.

  • Summer or day camp leader.

  • Recreation or community program attendant.

  • Peer counsellor.

  • Visual artist or graphic designer.

  • Writer, editor or similar.

  • Performing artist.

  • Tutor or instructor.

The provincial government states the new rules do not prevent children from babysitting, delivering newspapers part time, or working at a business or on a farm which is owned by an immediate family member, provided the work meets safety standards outlined by regulators. The new changes also do not prevent school-aged children from working in a work-study or work experience class. 

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