See ACLRC's Youth Employment Handbook.

The Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9 [EMT Code] regulates minimum standards for workers in Alberta. The EMT Code covers workplace standards such as:

  • Minimum age restrictions;
  • Workplace restrictions for youth between 12-17;
  • Procedures for lay-off, vacation pay, overtime pay and minimum wage;
  • Maternity and paternity leave; and
  • Employment records.

These laws apply to all youth regardless of their sexual orientation. For more information on human rights issues and LGBT youth see the “Human Rights Legislation and the Workplace” section and check out the human rights employment cases.

In general, under the EMT Code an ‘adolescent’ is anyone who is 12 to 14 years of age. A ‘young person’ is someone who is 15 to 17 years of age. Certain provisions of the EMT Code apply to these specific age groups.  

The regulations (Employment Standards Regulation, Alberta Regulation 14/97) for the EMT Code outline what age children may work and in what roles. Adolescents may work in the following positions (s 52(1)(a)):

i.  delivery person of small wares for a retail store,

ii.  clerk or messenger in an office,

iii.  clerk in a retail store,

iv.  delivery person for distribution of newspapers, flyers or handbills, or

v.  worker in an occupation approved by the Director

An adolescent cannot work longer than 2 hours (outside of school hours) on a day when school is mandated. An adolescent cannot work for longer than 8 hours on a day when school is not required.

A young person may not be employed at the following jobs between the hours of 9pm and midnight unless they are in the continuous presence of an adult (s 53):

Subsection 1

a)    the premises of any retail business selling

(i)  food or beverages, whether alcoholic or not, or

(ii)  any other commodities, goods, wares or merchandise;

b)    the premises of a retail business in which gasoline, diesel fuel, propane or any otherproduct of petroleum or natural gas is sold;

c)     a hotel, motel or other place that provides overnight accommodation to the public.

During the hours of midnight to 6am a young person may not work in any of the premises outlined in subsection 53(1) above. In addition, a young person may not work between midnight and 6am in any other employment unless they have written consent of a parent or guardian and work with an adult continuously.

Regarding other rights under the Employment Standards Code, people under 18 years of age have the same rights and responsibilities as an adult. A complaint to the Alberta Employment Standards must be made within six months of the last day the employee worked (see EMT Standards website here). Before a complaint is filed the employee is expected to try to resolve the complaint on his/her own (for more information, see: Alberta Job, Skills, Training and Labour: Employment Standards) If this resolution fails then the employee can file a complaint directly to Employment Standards. More information on these items and other minimum standards for workers can be found on the Employment Standards website as noted above.