According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), youth must be 14 years old or older to hold a nonagricultural position. Youth 18 years or older may perform any job, whether hazardous or not, for unlimited hours. Youth 16 or 17 years old may perform any nonhazardous job for unlimited hours.

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 assessmentsand 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 a Director’s Approval of an Occupation.

Youth 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

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

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 performances/entertainment 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.

Hazard 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:

  • Hazard assessment and control guide
  • Sample hazard assessment

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

Youth of a nation is considered to be the future of the nation and therefore it is essential to guide them in the right directions and protect them from exploitation during work. Work according to law1 is defined as the human effort whether intellectual, technical or physical, exerted in return for a wage it may be permanent or temporary in nature. The federal law no. 8 of 1980 concerning the regulations of labour relations (hereinafter known as ‘the law’) provides for special provisions for the youth of the nation. Article 20 to article 26 of the law pertains to regulating the employment conditions of a youth and the present article evaluates and discusses the same.

First, it is important to understand who all come within the definition of the term ‘youth’. The term is not defined in the present law and therefore the general meaning of the term is to be looked into. In general terms, the term ‘youth’ means the phase of life which comes between childhood and adulthood. The age till which a person is said to be in childhood is not mentioned but article 86 of the Federal Law no. 5 of 1985 pertaining to the Civil Transactions Law of the United Arab Emirates State, a person enters the age of discretion at the age of 7 and further article 85 of the same law provides that a person in UAE enters the age of majority at 21 years of age. Therefore considering the age below 7 years as childhood and the age of and above 21 to be adulthood, the age of a youth should be between 7 years and 21 years of age.

The present article deals with the regulating provisions for the employment of the youth. Article 20 of the law provides for a minimum age for a youth to be employed, it provides that a youth of either of the gender must have completed a minimum of 15 years of age for being employed. Hence, the regulating provisions for employment of youth are applicable to youth between the age of 15 years and 21years of age. Employing a youth below the age of 15 years in the United Arab Emirates state would be illegal. Therefore article 21 of the law provides for measures to be taken by an employer to confirm the age of the youth before employing him/her. The employer is supposed to maintain a personal file for the youth and is under obligation to maintain documents giving proof of the age of the youth therein. The following documents have to be maintained in the personal file of the youth:

  1. A birth certificate or an official extract thereof, or an age estimation certificate issued by a pertinent doctor and authenticated by the competent health authorities. (for proof and verification of the fact that the youth is of employable age)
  2. A certificate of health fitness for the required job issued by a competent doctor and authenticated.
  3. A written consent of the guardian or trustee of the youth.

Further, the law provides for the maintaining a special register comprising essential information about the youth at the work place by the Employer. The said register is to contain information regarding the name and age of the youth, the full name of the guardian or trustee thereof, the place of residence, date of employment and the work for which the youth is employed. The date of employment is to confirm that the youth when employed was of employable age. The work role of the youth needs to be specified as youths are allowed to do work only that is considered to be safe for them. Article 24 of the law provides that employment of youth in hazardous, strenuous or in such conditions that are harmful to the health conditions of the youth is prohibited. The circumstances and environment that are considered to be hazardous and harmful to the health of the youth are determined by virtue of a decision issued by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs upon the consultation of the competent authorities regarding the same. Here only the physical health of the youth is taken into consideration but with effect of an amendment the provision for safeguarding the mind and the mental health should also be added in the present law as youth is an age where the mind imprints very fast and easily and hence it is essential to keep it away from unethical, immoral and illegal activities.

Further, the law provides for the duration for which a youth is allowed to work in terms of timings and number of hours. Article 23 provides that a youth can only be employed during day time but this provision is limited to employment in industrial enterprises. Therefore there is no restriction on employing youth during the night time at work places other than industrial enterprises. It also provides the meaning of the word “night” to be a period of twelve consecutive hours at least including the period from 8 p. m. until 6 a. m. Article 25 of the law limits the maximum working hours to 6 hours per day for youths. These working hours would also include intervals for rest, meals or prayers. The intervals together are to be for a minimum of one hour and can be more than that but never less than that. Also the interval or the intervals are to be set in such a manner that the youth does not work more than four consecutive hours and the youth is not to be kept in the work location for more than seven consecutive hours. Further the law also has enumerated provisions within itself against charging the youth with overtime or retaining him/her at the work place after working hours or making the youth work of rest days which includes Fridays and public holidays.

At times it is necessary for the development and rehabilitation purposes that the youth is made to work for longer hours or to attend work on rest days. For such cases the law provides a special provision for philanthropic and educational institutions, that they may be exempt from the above discussed provisions if the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs thinks fit. This is not a rule but only a discretionary power of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs which shall take all necessary facts and circumstances into consideration before granting any exemptions.