Children working in British Columbia are covered by the Employment Standards Act. Children must work under the direct supervision of someone who is at least 19 years old.
A parent or guardian needs to provide written permission for their child to work, and the employer must keep a record of the written consent. There are different requirements for hiring young people depending on the age of the child.
Employers cannot hire children to perform hazardous work. Employment Standards cannot issue a permit to allow a child to perform hazardous work.
Employers need a permit unless:
Employers need a permit unless:
Employers need a permit unless:
"Light work" means occupations that are not considered harmful to a child's health or development. Employers intending to hire children under 16 need to apply for a child employment permit if the child will be performing any tasks listed in not light work
"Not light work" means work that could be considered harmful to a child's health, safety or development.
This list came into effect on January 1, 2023.
"Hazardous work" means work that is considered likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of a child. Employers cannot hire children to perform certain kinds of work if they are under the specific ages given below.
Children under 18 cannot be hired to perform:
Exception: Children who will be 18 on April 1, 2023 can perform the work listed above if both of the following apply:
In addition to the above, children under 16 cannot be hired to perform:
Exception: Children who will be 16 on April 1, 2023 can perform the work listed above if both of the following apply:
The decision to issue a child employment permit is subject to the Director’s approval. In exercising their discretion under the Act, the Director of Employment Standards will only issue a child employment permit after assessing whether an exception to the standard provisions of the Act is reasonable in the circumstances. When reviewing an application, the Director assesses factors such as:
The Director exercises their discretion with a focus on the health and wellbeing of the child. This includes:
The Director may assess this in part by reviewing the employer’s previous compliance history with the Employment Standards Act and other labour related legislation.
Typically, permits for children under the age of 12 are only granted under extraordinary circumstances such as low risk, short-term employment situations.
If an employer requires a permit to employ a child, the parent or guardian of the child must consent to the employment relationship. The recommendation of a school authority is needed when a permit is required and the child will work while the school year is in session. While the consent and recommendation are required, they are not the only factors that determine whether the Director will approve a child employment permit application.
Employment agreements for children should meet all minimum employment standards including:
Children who are under 15 years old cannot:
Employers of children who are 15 or older need to follow the standard rules for hours of work.
Employers need to report workplace injuries and illnesses to WorkSafeBC within 3 days. It is against the law for employers to tell a worker to not file a claim.
Under the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, workers in B.C. have 3 key health and safety rights:
Parents play a unique role in influencing how children think about safety at work. Sharing knowledge and experiences with children can help them establish safe attitudes and behaviors. Employers are ultimately responsible for a worker's health and safety, but everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe in the workplace. Employers are required to provide safety orientation and training to their workers before they start a new job or task. Employers must keep records of all orientation and training.
Employers must ensure that they have proper first aid procedures in place for their workplace. Connect with someone you know who works, or has worked, in the industry your child may work in. Encourage your child to ask questions about health and safety in the workplace.
Consider the following questions based on the industry your child is working in.
Visit WorkSafeBC young and new workers for more information.
Click the button below to discover whether a permit is needed in a specific situation and access the online application form.
A parent or guardian decides if it's in the best interests of their child to have a job. If a child employment permit is not required, they must provide written consent (PDF, 130.7KB) for their child to work. The employer must keep a record of the written consent.
There are special employment conditions for children that work in the entertainment industry, because they may be very young and will likely work during school hours.
If a young person works in the entertainment industry in a position other than an actor, background performer or extra, the general rules for employing young people apply.
Employers need permission
Employers need written consent from a parent or guardian (PDF, 20.2KB) to hire a young person as an actor, performer (including background performer) or extra for film, radio, video, television, theatre, dance, music, opera or circus performances.
The employer (via the assistant director, casting director or talent agent) should explain to the parent or guardian what the role of their child will be.
The role of parents or guardians
One of the child's parents or guardians should supervise the child at all times. If that’s not possible, you can assign an adult (over 19 years old) as the child's chaperone. The chaperone needs written permission from a parent or guardian to make decisions on behalf of the child. The chaperone cannot be the child's employer or tutor, or an employee of either.
The supervising adult should be present on the set within sight and sound of the child. The employer can provide an audio and visual monitor when filming scenes.
For live entertainment, up to 3 children can be assigned to a supervising adult that is also working as an extra or background performer on the same production set.
For recorded entertainment, the ratio of children to supervising adults is:
Make sure the employer has authorization to treat your child in a medical emergency.
Provide the employer with a written summary of your any conditions or medical history that could impact your child’s ability to perform.
Before your child starts work, review their script or discuss their role with the employer. The employer should provide an interpreter if necessary.
Work with the employer to make sure your child has enough rest and playtime.
Plan to arrive 15 to 30 minutes early. Don't be late. Don't bring other children, relatives or friends. Check in with the designated person on the set (usually from the assistant director's department) and the tutor, if there is one. Sign out at the end of the workday – don't let someone else sign out for your child.
You must know how much your child earns and when they will be paid. Make sure that appropriate deductions or other payments are made on your child's behalf.
Hours of work
Work hours include time spent doing hair, makeup, wardrobe or fittings. Split shifts are not allowed. Children cannot work more than five days per week.
The workday starts at the child's call time or when they're required to start work. The earliest work can start is 5 am.
The end of the workday is when the young person is no longer wearing makeup or a costume. It may include travel time or time spent waiting for transportation. The latest a child can work is 10 pm if the next day is a school day or 12:30 am if the next day is not a school day. If school is not in session a child can work until 2 a.m.
|Maximum work hours per day
|Time before camera
|15 days to less than 3 years
|Minimum 20-minute break for every 15 consecutive minutes
|3 to 5 years old
|Minimum 15-minute break for every 30 consecutive minutes
|6 to 11 years old
|Minimum 10-minute break for every 45 consecutive minutes
|12 to 14 years old
|Minimum 10-minute break for every 60 consecutive minutes
The hours of work cannot be changed before receiving written permission from the Employment Standards Branch. Approval is usually only given for special circumstances like location availability, live television productions or filming outside during the early morning or late night.
As soon as the shooting schedule is known and at least 48 hours (two working days) before the date when the written approval is required, send a written request to ESBDataIntegrity@gov.bc.ca that includes:
The Employment Standards Branch may interview the child's parent/guardian, school, tutor, and representatives from the production company.
If approval is given, it might also include additional requirements like making special provisions available for the child and their parent or guardian (e.g a heated trailer with bed). Written approval does not create a precedent for any future considerations or requests.
All time on set, including tutoring time, is paid work time. Children are entitled to a minimum daily pay – at least two hours per day. Meal breaks are not included in paid time.
Children's financial rights are independent of their parents and families. If a child earns more than $2,000 on a production, the employer must pay 25% of their earnings over $2,000 to the Public Guardian and Trustee to hold in trust for the child.
Very young children
Sometimes, very young children are hired for specific roles. They must be at least 15 days old.
To hire a child under the age of 4 for live entertainment, employers need to apply for a child employment permit.
Working with a talent agency
Parents or guardians who decide to hire a talent agent should:
Contact your child's agent to help with:
If you're having issues with an employer, find out what you can do:
References from the Employment Standards Act and Regulation