UPDATED – Hiring a Student? 3 Important Considerations


Many organizations rely on youth employees to help keep their business running. If you are planning to hire youth employees (summer students, part-time youth employees etc.), it’s important to understand that there are special rules that apply. The three main considerations are:

  1. The minimum age for employment in your jurisdiction
  2. Specific work restrictions that apply to students and young employees
  3. Special rules regarding students and young employees (such as record keeping)

Many of these requirements are found in employment standards legislation, but you may also have to consider health and safety legislation (in Ontario you also need to consider the Education Act and in PEI you need to consider The Youth Employment Act).

Minimum Age

The minimum age for employment is a bit of a hot topic right now. Recent amendments to the minimum age for employment under the Canada Labour Code and the government’s call for comments on its draft regulations related to the minimum age have drawn attention to this issue. On June 1, 2023 Quebec  introduced a minimum age for employment and as of September 1, 2023 work restrictions for youth employees will come into force. A key concern of both of these governments is the increased risk of accidents among young workers.

Every jurisdiction in Canada currently has rules regarding the minimum age for employment, but these rules vary significantly and are actually more complex than you might expect. In some jurisdictions there is an absolute minimum age for employment (subject to some exceptions where special permission is obtained), but there may also be different minimum ages within the same jurisdiction depending on the nature of the work or the industry.

Generally, the absolute minimum ages for work are as follows:

Minimum Age 1


It is important to carefully review the minimum age requirements in your jurisdiction when hiring students or youth employees. The chart above is a guideline, but there are very specific requirements in most jurisdictions and not all types of work can be performed by those at the minimum age.

Work Restrictions

Many jurisdictions also impose work restrictions on students and young workers. These restrictions deal with the following types of issues:

  • The minimum wage to be paid to students or young workers.
    • Many jurisdictions have a student/young worker minimum wage rate and students must be paid this minimum rate.
  • The number of hours that can be worked by a young worker.
    • There may be a limit on the number of hours that a student or youth can work, depending on the employee’s age. For example, in Alberta employees who are under 15 cannot work for more than 2 hours outside of normal school hours on a school day or for more than 8 hours on a day that is not a school day. Many other jurisdictions have similar requirements depending on whether or not it is a school day.
  • The hours during which a student or young worker is permitted to work
    • These are limits on the time of day that a young worker can work. For example, in Manitoba employees under the age of 16 cannot work between the hours of 11:00pm and 6:00am. Many jurisdictions have these types of restrictions. This is another common type of restriction.
  • Supervision of students and young workers
    • Young workers may require specific supervision. For example, in British Columbia, employees under the age of 16 must work under the direct and immediate supervision of a person who is at least 19 years old. In some jurisdictions the requirement for supervision depends on the type of work being performed (for example, food service).
  • Prohibitions on young workers in certain industries or occupations, or on work that is harmful to a young worker
    • Many jurisdictions prohibit work in certain industries or types of jobs, such as forestry, garages and service stations, construction, the operation of machinery etc. In addition to these, some jurisdictions impose a restriction on employees younger than a specified age doing any work that is or is likely to be unwholesome or harmful to the child’s health or normal development (including their moral or physical development).

If you are hiring students or young workers, it is important to carefully review the specific requirements of your jurisdiction, paying close attention to your industry, the type of work that the student/young worker will perform and the age of the employee.

Special Rules

There are a number of special rules and exemptions that apply to student and youth employment. These special rules and exemptions vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. For example, many jurisdictions have special rules allowing the employment of children younger than the minimum age in the entertainment business, but there may be specific rules that apply.

Where there is an exemption, it is important to pay close attention to the requirements of the exemption. For example, Alberta and Manitoba both include exemptions from the minimum age for certain agricultural work, but in Manitoba the exemption only applies if the employee is employed by a family member.

Finally, there may be specific record keeping requirements related to youth employees. For example, in Ontario if an employee is a student and under age 18, the employer must keep a record of the employee’s date of birth.

How Compliance Works Helps HR Professionals

Compliance with constantly changing employment laws can be challenging and time consuming, especially when those requirements are found across different Acts and Regulations. Compliance Works explains current employment legislation and stays on top of changes to employment laws – across the country. Use Compliance Works to quickly answer questions with confidence, knowing that all of the requirements have been pulled together in one easy summary.

Contact us to Request a Demo , subscribe to Compliance Works publications, or email us at info@complianceworks.ca to learn how a paid subscription to Compliance Works can help your HR team succeed.



About the author

Gayle Wadden
Gayle Wadden CLO, Compliance Works
Gayle Wadden is a senior lawyer with deep experience in employment and corporate law. She is responsible for overseeing Compliance Works’ legal content.

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