Hiring young people

Employers need permission to hire a child under 15 years old

A parent or guardian decides if it's in the best interests of their child to have a job. They must provide written permission for their child to work.

Employers must keep a record of the written consent. It needs to include the child's date of birth and confirmation that the child's parent or guardian agrees to the hours, location and type of work the child will be doing.

Under 12 years old

Employers need to complete an Application of Employer for Child's Permit of Employment (PDF, 32.2KB). The child's parent or guardian and school authority also complete sections of the application form.

Send the application and a copy of the child's birth certificate to the Victoria Employment Standards Branch office.

Ages 12 to 14

Employers need written consent from a parent or guardian (PDF, 20 KB). Children who are 12 to 14 years old cannot:

  • Be required to work during school hours
  • Work more than four hours on school days
  • Work more than seven hours on a non-school day
  • Work more than 20 hours during a week with five school days
  • Work more than 35 hours a week when school is not in session

Employees who are 12 to 14 years old must always be under the direct and immediate supervision of an adult. Parents or guardians need to make sure the child's employment is in their best interests. They need to:

  • Protect the child from work that could be unsafe, interrupt their education or harm their development
  • Make sure the child understands what's expected of them
  • Make sure the child can do the job
  • Act as a liaison between their child and other workers

15 years and older

Employers who hire a young person who is 15 years of age or older must:

Specific rules apply to young people who work as actors, performers or extras

Special employment conditions are outlined 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, but 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, 30 KB) 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.

To hire a child under the age of four for live entertainment, employers need to complete an Application of Employer for Child's Permit of Employment (PDF, 32.2KB). The child's parent or guardian and school authority also complete sections of the application form. Send the application and a copy of the child's birth certificate to the Victoria Employment Standards Branch office.

Don't leave your child unsupervised

One of the child's parents or guardians should be present to supervise the child at all times. If the parent can't be present, an adult (over 19 years old) can be assigned as the child's chaperone. The chaperone needs written permission from a parent or guardian that authorizes them to make decisions on behalf of the child. The chaperone cannot be the child's employer, tutor, or an employee of the employer or tutor.

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 three children can be assigned to one 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:

  • One child per adult for children aged 15 days to under 6 years old
  • Three children per adult for children aged 6 to under 12 years old
  • Five children per adult for children aged 12 to 15 years old

The role of parents or guardians

Prepare for a medical emergency. The parent or guardian should make sure the employer has authorization to treat their child in a medical emergency.

Disclose the child's conditions. The parent or guardian should provide a written summary to the employer of their child's conditions or medical history that could impact their ability to perform.

Know the child's role. Before starting work, the parent or guardian should review their child's script or discuss their role with the employer. The employer should provide an interpreter, if necessary.

Provide enough rest. The parent or guardian works with the employer to make sure the child has enough rest and playtime.

Start and end the workday. 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 the child.

Manage income. The parent or guardian must know how much their child earns and when they will get paid. They also need to make sure that appropriate deductions or other payments are made on the 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.

Work begins at call time. 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.

Work ends at wrap time. 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 hours of work
Time before camera
15 days to less than three years
8 hours per day
A minimum break of 20 minutes for every 15 consecutive minutes
3 to 5 years old
8 hours per day
A minimum break of 15 minutes for every 30 consecutive minutes
6 to 11 years old
8 hours per day
A minimum break of 10 minutes for every 45 consecutive minutes
12 to 14 years old
10 hours per day
A minimum break of 10 minutes for every 60 consecutive minutes

Employers must apply to alter hours of work. 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 reason for the request
  • A copy of the parent's or guardian's written consent
  • The name of the young person(s) involved
  • The date of birth of the young person(s)
  • The name and contact numbers for the parent/guardian
  • The name and contact number of the young person's tutor (if applicable)
  • The change to work hours/days being requested – include start and finish times
  • The description of the scene, location, and conditions
  • Details of provisions to be made for the young person if flexibility is granted (e.g. sheltered area for breaks, meals provided, transportation, arrangements to leave the shoot if unable to continue working etc.)
  • The name, job title and contact information for person representing the production making the request

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. 

Wages and protection of income. 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.

Children under three years old

Sometimes, very young children are hired for specific roles. They must be at least 15 days old.

Working with a talent agency

Parents or guardians who decide to hire a talent agent should:

  • Read and understand contracts before signing with a talent agency – get legal advice, if necessary
  • Know the rules for talent agencies

Contact your child's agent to help with:

  • Concerns or questions about your child's employment contract, voucher or release
  • Arranging for special food, medication or education requirements for your child