Young Workers – Employment Standards

Workers have the Right to minimum Employment Standards

These rules include minimum wage, hours of work, overtime, vacation pay, being paid for training, termination, youth employment, and certain job-protected leaves.

Employment Standards is the government department responsible for administering and enforcing these minimum standards. They can answer questions about wages, vacation pay, holiday pay, hours of work, etc. You can also contact them to file a complaint if you are not being treated in accordance with these standards.

Call the province-wide toll-free number at 1-877-427-3731 or through their online form.

There are some rules and protections specifically for workers under the age of 18, and these can be found under Employment Standards – youth employment laws.

These youth employment rules limit the type of work and hours of work for 12 year-olds, and13-14 year-olds. Permits and parent or guardian consent may be required to ensure young workers are only performing “light duties” that won’t endanger their health and safety.

15-17 year-olds do not have any restrictions on the kind of jobs they can perform, but have restricted hours in some situations. 15 year-olds cannot work during regular school hours (unless involved in a “work experience”-type program), 15-17 year-olds working in retail/hospitality jobs must have adult supervision between the hours of 9:00pm and 12:00am, and cannot work between 12:01am and 6:00am. 15-17 year-olds may work in any other kind of job between 12:01 and 6:00am, but only with adult supervision and parent/guardian consent.

Minimum wage can also be different for young workers.

Note that these specific rules apply only to employees, not to self-employed contractors doing casual work such as babysitting, shovelling snow, or cutting lawns. These rules also do not apply to volunteering, “work experience”-type programs through school, or to farms and ranches.


Workers have the Right to Form and Join Unions

In Alberta about 1/4 of the workforce belongs to a union. Many workers have formed and joined unions to improve their ability to negotiate employment contracts for better working conditions, including health and safety, higher wages, job security, extended health benefits, and more.

This contract is called a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and is negotiated and agreed to by the Union and Management. It has terms and conditions that are at least equal to (and usually better than) the minimum Employment Standards. If you work in a unionized workplace and have questions about your Collective Agreement or other workplace concerns, your Union Representative (often called your Union Steward or Shop Steward) may have information and resources to help you.

The Alberta Labour Relations Board is the provincial body that makes and enforces rules in unionized workplaces about union-management relations.

The Alberta Federation of Labour is the umbrella body for most unions in the province.