How old you have to be to work in BC

Did you know?

From what age can a young person work in British Columbia without needing anyone’s permission?
  • 12
  • 15
  • 18

What you should know

Employers need permission to hire a child under 15 years old

From age 15, a young person can work in British Columbia without needing anyone’s permission.

Children between age 12 and 14 need the permission of a parent or guardian to work. They can't work during school hours. And there are limits on the number of hours they can work in a day or week (see here).

Children under age 12 can't work unless they get a permit from the Employment Standards Branch, a provincial government office.

There are exceptions to some of these rules, such as for kids working in the entertainment industry (more on that in a moment).

There are special forms involved

To hire a young person between age 12 and 14, an employer needs written consent of the parent or guardian (PDF). The written consent along with proof of the child’s age must be retained by the employer as part of the employment records. 

To hire a child under age 12, an employer needs to complete an application for a child’s employment permit (PDF). The child's parent or guardian and school authority also complete sections of the application form.

The Employment Standards Branch provides more information.

Specific rules apply to young people who work as actors, performers or extras

There are special rules for children working in the entertainment industry as actors, performers or extras. These rules reflect that children in these roles may be very young and likely to work during school hours.

Employers need permission

Employers need written consent from a parent or guardian (PDF) to hire a young person as an actor, performer or extra for film, radio, video, TV, theatre, dance, music, opera or circus performances.

To hire a child under the age of four for live entertainmentemployers need to complete an application for child's permit of employment (PDF). The child's parent or guardian and school authority also complete sections of the application form.

A supervising adult must be present

One of the child's parents or guardians should be present to supervise the child at all times. If the parent can't be present, an adult (over 19 years old) can be assigned as the child's chaperone.

Hours of work

There are specific limits on hours of work and requirements for breaks, depending on the age of the child. Work hours include time spent doing hair, makeup, wardrobe or fittings.

The Employment Standards Branch provides details here.

Changes are coming to all of these rules

As of April 2021, there are changes planned to BC’s Employment Standards Act. The changes will affect how old someone has to be to work in the province.

Once the changes come into effect:

  • from age 16, a young person can work without needing anyone’s permission

  • children aged 14 or 15 will be able to do “light work” jobs, with the permission of a parent or guardian

  • children under age 14 won’t be able to work unless they get a permit from the Employment Standards Branch

There will also be age restrictions for work that is defined as hazardous. The details are still being developed.

  • Reviewed in April 2021
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 3 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

People's team, People's Law School

People's team

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