The provincial government says new rules raising the general working age in BC to 16 from the current 12 will come into effect on October 15 of this year.
It says the changes to employment standards will define the types of jobs that are appropriate for those under 16 but will not prevent children from babysitting or delivering newspapers part-time.
Youth aged 14 and 15 will be allowed to perform light work including jobs in retail, food services or recreation with permission from a parent or guardian while those 12 and up can continue working at family-owned businesses and farms.
Examples of light work appropriate for 14 and 15-year-olds include recreation and sports club work, light farm and yard work, administrative work, retail, food service, and skilled and technical work such as computer programming.
“Work experience can be a rewarding growth opportunity for young people, but it should never compromise their safety,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “We know that most employers make safety their top priority for all their workers, and these changes clarify what types of employment are age-appropriate for young workers.”
The province says prior to the changes, BC was the only province that allowed the employment of children as young as 12, which led to young workers being injured on the job every year. WorkSafeBC data reports more than $1.1 million paid in job-related disability claims for workers 14 or younger between 2007 and 2016.
“We are committed to protecting B.C.’s workers of all ages from unsafe working conditions and unfair labour practices,” Bains said. “And we are improving B.C.’s employment standards to reflect the evolving needs of our workplaces. I look forward to continuing that work.”
The government adds that work is also underway to define “hazardous work” for 16 to 18-year-olds, with regulatory changes expected later this year to bring the legislation into force.