Dear Working Wise: How soon is too soon for my kids to get their first jobs?
My kids are 13 and 15 and both say they want to work part-time while they go to school. I want them to learn the value of work, but they’re so young and I’m concerned about their safety. — Anxious Parent
Dear Anxious: A part-time job is a great way for students to earn some extra pocket money, save for post-secondary education and find out that money really doesn’t grow on trees. Part-time jobs also teach skills they will be able to use for the rest of their lives, including teamwork, time-management and interpersonal skills.
Working does carry risks, no matter how careful kids and employers are. You know your kids best and know how much responsibility they can handle — use your best judgment when deciding when your kids start working and where they work.
One thing that might help ease your mind a bit is that Alberta Employment Standards legislation includes provisions to ensure that young workers are only allowed to work in jobs that are safe.
For kids aged 12 to 14, parents or guardians must give the employer written consent to allow their kids to work. The job must also carry no risk of injury to the life, health, education or welfare of the adolescent.
The types of jobs workers 14 or under can accept are limited to:
• Delivery person of small items in a retail store.
• Clerk or messenger in an office.
• Clerk in a retail store, including outlets such as video stores, grocery stores, department stores, convenience stores and farmers’ markets, but not including movie theatres. Adolescents are not permitted to pump gas.
• Delivery person for the distribution of newspapers, flyers or handbills.
• Certain occupations in restaurant and food services (host/hostess duties, cashier duties, dish-washing, bussing tables, providing customer service, assembling food orders, waiting on tables or cleaning, are approved occupations).
For other occupations, a permit is required. Before granting a permit, the employer must complete written application with a safety checklist for underage employees.
Employment Standards will not issue a permit for a worker 14 or under to work in any occupations in the construction industry or occupations requiring work around or with heavy or potentially hazardous equipment, such as drills, conveyors, grinders, welding equipment, hammers and nails, blowtorches, forklifts, deep fat fryers, hot grills, slicers, etc.
For workers aged 15 to 17, Employment Standards does not impose restrictions on the type of employment, but there are restrictions on the hours of work and the level of supervision required. If a young person is employed at a retail store or motel/hotel and works after 9 p.m., there must be at least one adult present at all times. Youths working between midnight and 6 a.m. need to work with at least one adult and employers need the written consent of the youths’ parent or guardian.
Employers are responsible for providing workplaces that are safe for all workers, including providing safety training, and workers are responsible for working safely.
For more information on how to work safely, encourage your kids to visit the www.bloodylucky.ca website or check out the Montie student safety video library in the CTS section of the LearnAlberta.ca website (www.learnalberta.ca). Students can get a valid username and password for the site from their school principal.
For more information on protections for young Alberta workers, visit www.employment.alberta.ca and click on Safe and Fair Workplaces.
Working Wise is compiled weekly by Charles Strachey, a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. Work-related questions can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Working Wise is provided for general information only. Help with specific situations is available through Alberta Employment Standards by calling 1-877-427-3731.