Youth Employment


The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

This topic discusses the laws of Alberta that apply to the employment of young persons that are under the age of 18 years. It depends upon the age of the young person what employment restrictions apply.

Children aged 12 years and under:

Persons under the age of 12 years are not permitted to work.  However, in some circumstances you may apply for a permit from the Director of Employment Standards of the Government of Alberta if you can justify the need for such employment.  You must assure the Director that no harm will come to the child. If a permit is issued by the Director, the Director may impose any restrictions they feel are necessary.

Adolescents aged 12-13-14 years:

Adolescents cannot be employed outside school hours unless it is under following circumstances:

  • To make deliveries of small goods for a retail store;
  • To deliver newspapers or flyers;
  • To be a clerk, or messenger in an office or retail store;
  • Other similar types of jobs must be approved by the Director of Employment Standards of the Government of Alberta.

Employment of adolescents must not be injurious (harmful) to their life, health, education or welfare.  Parents or guardians of adolescents who are employed must provide written consent (permission) to the employer.

An adolescent cannot work during their normal school hours. They cannot work before 6:00 in the morning and after 9:00 in the evening.  They may only work 2 hours on school days and up to 8hours when there is no school day.  For example, if your son or daughter has a paper route they cannot deliver the newspapers in the mornings before 6:00 a.m. or deliver in the evening after 9:00 p.m.  If your son or daughter works in a convenience store, they cannot work more than 2 hours during the week they go to school.  On weekends, your son or daughter may work up to 8 hours a day.

Young persons aged 15-16-17 years:

Young persons cannot work or be employed to work from 9:00 p.m. to midnight unless they work with or are in the continuous presence of at least 1 other individual 18 years old or older in a retail store that sells food or beverages, or other merchandise, gas, petroleum products, or in a motel, hotel or inn.  Young persons cannot work or be employed to work in the same places between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. under any circumstances.

A young person can work in any other place than those just mentioned between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. if they have the written consent (permission) of a parent or guardian to work those hours and the young person is in the continuous presence of at least another person who is 18 years old or older.

As of September 1st 2013, the minimum wage for all employment is $9.95 per hour. It does not matter what age you are.  If you are a student under the age of 18 years, the minimum number of hours you must be paid for is 3 hours at the minimum wage.  However, you must be available to work for the full 3 hours.  If you are not receiving the minimum wage and number of hours, call the Employment Standards at (780) 427-3731 or toll-free by dialing 310-0000 first and then the number to file a complaint.

If you are a young person between 15 years up to 18 years, and enrolled in a work experience program as part of your education, your wage is to be paid according to the authorized contract.  That contract would authorize your participation and set your wage, which may be less than the minimum wage.  Also, persons under the age of 18 employed in an agricultural or ranching situation may not be entitled to the minimum wage and hours of work restrictions.

Young people are entitled to Employment Insurance in the same way as adults.  However, young people seldom meet the requirements to benefit from the insurance.  If you quit work without just cause, or are fired for misconduct you cannot collect the insurance. For more information regarding Employment Insurance contact your nearest Canada Employment Centre at 1-800-266-7218.