Employees under 18

Employees under 18

Employees under 18 years of age have rights and responsibilities under Alberta’s Employment Standards laws.

PLEASE NOTE - New employment standards pertaining to the employment of employees under the age of 18 come into effect soon. For information on new Employment Standards legislation, go to https://www.alberta.ca/youth-employment-laws.aspx

Basic rules

  • children under 12 years of age are generally not allowed to work; however in special and limited circumstances (i.e. artistic endeavors), a permit may be granted by the Director of Employment Standards to approve the employment of those under 12 years of age
  • regardless of age, all employees under 18 years of age are entitled to the minimum standards of employment, such as general holidays, vacations, minimum wage and termination notice or pay
  • as with adults, a few exceptions apply, such as to students in an approved training course or work experience program who may be exempt from the requirement to pay minimum wage

Employers must also comply with the restrictions that apply to the following employee age groups:

Employees 12 to 14 years old

  • are considered ‘adolescents’
  • need written consent from a parent or guardian before they can start work
  • need a permit from Employment Standards to work at jobs other than clerking in an office or retail store, delivering flyers, or certain approved duties in the restaurant industry

See details below.

Employees 15 to 17 years old

  • are considered ‘young persons’
  • don’t need parental or guardian consent except when working between 12:01 and 6 am.
  • don’t need a permit to work
  • have special restrictions when employed by restaurants, bars, all retail stores, gas stations, hotels and motels

See details below.

More details

Show Answer Restrictions for Adolescents (12 to 14 years old)

Parental consent

Employers must get the parent or guardian’s written consent before hiring an employee between 12 and 14 years old.

Hours of work

Adolescents may not work:

  • more than 2 hours on a school day
  • more than 8 hours on a non-school day
  • between 9 pm and 6 am
  • during normal school hours unless enrolled in an off-campus education program provided under Alberta's School Act

Approved jobs

Adolescents may work as:

  • delivery person for flyers, newspapers and handbills
  • delivery person for small goods and merchandise for a retail store
  • clerk or messenger in an office
  • clerk or messenger in a retail store
  • select jobs in restaurant and food services

Adolescents in restaurant and food services

Approved jobs

Adolescents may only work in the following jobs in a restaurant or food service business:

  • host/hostess
  • cashier
  • dish washer
  • bussing tables
  • server or waiter
  • providing customer service
  • assembling food orders
  • cleaning

Non-approved jobs

Adolescents may not perform the following duties in a restaurant or food service business:

  • use deep fryers, grills, slicers or other potentially dangerous equipment
  • work in areas where deep fryers, grills, slicers or other potentially dangerous equipment are being used
  • work in areas where smoking is permitted
  • sell or serve liquor in licensed premises

See also the Employment Standards Guide for the hospitality industry (PDF, 1.82 MB).

Health and safety

Employers must ensure the health and safety of employees between 12 and 14 years old, as required under section 2 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

To do so, employers must:

  • ensure the job isn’t, or isn’t likely to be, harmful to the life, health, education or welfare of the adolescent
  • ensure the adolescent employee is always accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old

Health and safety documentation

For the restaurant and food services industry, the Occupational Health and Safety Code requires employers of adolescents to:

Before an adolescent starts working

  1. Complete a written Hazard Assessment, stating the employer will:
    • control or eliminate all hazards
    • warn the adolescent employee about any hazards that may affect them

    Download Hazard Assessment form (PDF, 1.62 MB)

  2. Complete a Safety Checklist and ensure compliance with it. The employer, employee, and parent or guardian must sign the completed form and email, mail or fax a copy to:

    Email: LBR.espermits@gov.ab.ca
    Fax: 780-422-8944
    Permit Analyst
    Employment Standards Program Delivery
    Alberta Labour
    6th floor, Labour Building
    10808-99 Avenue
    Edmonton, AB T5K 0G5

    Download the Safety Checklist for Adolescent Employees in Restaurant and Food Services form (PDF, 1.60 MB)

After an adolescent starts working

Keep originals of the completed Hazard Assessment and Safety Checklist forms at the worksite for each adolescent employee.

Permit to employ an adolescent

If a proposed duty or occupation isn’t on the list of approved jobs, the employer must apply for a permit before the adolescent can start work.

The permit system allows parents or guardians, employers, and Employment Standards to make sure the job isn’t likely to be harmful to the adolescent’s life, health, education or well-being.

Permits aren’t issued for jobs that could be harmful to adolescents, including:

  • construction
  • jobs requiring heavy lifting
  • working with or near fuel or propane
  • working with or near vehicles and equipment
  • working with or near heavy equipment (such as fork lifts)
  • working with power tools
  • working with potentially hazardous equipment, such as pneumatic drills, conveyors for bulk materials, lawnmowers and trimmers, pressure washers, hand grinders, welding equipment, hammers, blowtorches, deep fryers, grills, slicers, or sharp knives

Find out how to apply for a permit to employ an adolescent.

Show Answer Restrictions for Young Persons (15 to 17 years old)

Employers don’t need permits from Employment Standards for employees aged 15 and older.

Parental consent

Employers need the parent or guardian’s written consent if the young person will be working between 12:01 am and 6 am.

Approved jobs

Employees between 15 and 17 years old may work at any type of job.

Hours of work

Those under 16 years of age may not work during normal school hours unless enrolled in an off-campus education program provided under the School Act.

For all other hours, time restrictions apply if young persons are employed at a:

  • retail business selling food or beverages, whether alcoholic or not
  • retail business selling gasoline or other petroleum products
  • retail business selling any other merchandise
  • hotel, motel or other place that provides overnight accommodation to the public

For any of the above businesses, the following time restrictions apply:

9 pm to 12:01 am

Young persons must always be supervised by an adult who is at least 18 years old during these hours.

12:01 am to 6 am

Young persons aren’t allowed to work in a business listed above during these hours.


If a young person is working in a business that’s not listed above, they may only work between 12:01 am and 6 am if:

  • they’re always supervised by someone at least 18 years of age, and
  • their parent/guardian gives written consent to the employment

How the law applies

Part 2 Division 9 of the Employment Standards Code and Part 5 of the Employment Standards Regulation place restrictions on employees under 18 years of age.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.

Modified: 2018-05-22
PID: 1476