Working

Read below for answers to frequently asked questions

How old do I have to be before I can legally babysit?

There is no legal age requirement for babysitting. It is up to the parents/guardians to make sure their children are safe.

You shouldn’t accept a babysitting job if you do not feel comfortable being left in charge.

A great way to prepare for a babysitting job is to take a babysitting training course. Such training courses are offered at:

• The Red Cross for those age 11 to 15,
• St. John Ambulance for those age 11 to 16, and
• The YMCA for those age 12 to 17. 


What is the minimum wage in Alberta?

The minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00 per hour for most employees. The hourly minimum wage is the same for adults, liquor servers and young people. There’s a separate weekly and monthly minimum wage for some salespersons and domestic employees. Learn more about minimum wage rules and exemptions.

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 130 (Specific offences).

Reviewed 07/16


Am I allowed to work for less than minimum wage if I agree?

No – the minimum wage in Alberta is $15.00  per hour and it is against the law for an employer to pay you less than that, or for you to accept less than that. Both you and your employer can be fined.

If you are getting paid less than the minimum wage contact us (403-207-9029 or use our contact form) for more information.

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 130 (Specific offences).

 Reviewed 07⁄15


Can people under age 18 work during school hours?

The answer to this depends on your age.

If you are under 16 years old then the School Act in Alberta requires you to attend school. You cannot work during normal school hours, unless you are enrolled in an off-campus education program like Work Experience or the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). These programs are considered to be school attendance. Also, if you are under 16 years old, you need your parent’s/guardian’s permission to enroll in an off-campus education program.

If you are 16 or 17 years old you can work during school hours. Although you cannot be forced to work any hours you do not want to work, or hours outside your availability, your employer does not have to keep you on if you cannot work the hours they require.

If you are 16 years old, or older, the law says you can sign for yourself for an off-campus education program. However, most schools still want your parents’/guardians’ consent in order to keep them informed of your education and work.

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 65 (Employment of children), s 66 (Conditions of a child’s employment).
  • School Act, RSA 2000, c S-3, s 13 (Compulsory education), s 14 (Enforcing school attendance), s 15 (Attendance at school), s 54 (Off-campus education programs).
  • Government of Alberta, “Off-Campus Education Handbook,” 2010, p 46 (Parental communication).

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I am 14 years old and have an after-school job. How many hours can I work each day and what kind of work can I do?

If you are 12 to 14 years old, your employer needs your parent’s/guardian’s written permission before you are allowed to work.

If you are 12 to 14 years old, you are limited in the number of hours you are allowed to work outside of school. Your employer CANNOT legally let you work:

  • More than 2 hours after school on a school day,
  • More than 8 hours on a non-school day (this includes summer holidays, weekends, and holidays), and
  • Between 9 pm and 6 am on any day.

If you are 12 to 14 years old, you are also limited in the kind of work you are allowed to do. Approved jobs include:

  • Delivery person, such as for flyers, newspapers and small goods and merchandise for a retail store,
  • Clerk, for example in an office or retail store,
  • Messenger in an office, and
  • Certain jobs in the restaurant and food services industry.
    • You are allowed to perform host/hostess duties, cashier duties, cleaning duties, wash dishes, bus tables, wait tables, provide customer service, and assemble orders.
    • You are not allowed to work around or perform any duties that involve the use of deep fryers, grills, slicers or other potentially dangerous equipment. Also, you are not allowed to work in areas where smoking is permitted.

If you want to work at a job that is not in the list above, you, your employer and your parents/guardians must apply together for “A Permit to Employ an Adolescent” to the Director of Employment Standards. The application can be found here.

Note that you are not allowed to do any work that might be dangerous to your health and safety, education, or general welfare. In addition, the Director of Employment Standards can put conditions on your employment if he or she decides it is appropriate and/or necessary.

Legal Authorities

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I am 16 years old. Am I allowed to work late on a school night?

Yes – but if you are between 15 to 17 years old there are restrictions.

Although you may work at any type of business, certain types have restrictions when employing young people. The types of businesses that have restrictions are:

  • Retail stores
  • Places that serve food or drinks
  • Gas stations; and
  • Hotels and motels.

9:00 pm to Midnight:

If you work at a business in the list above it is legally required that you be directly supervised by an adult employee between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on any day of the week.

Midnight to 6:00 a.m.:

If you work at a business in the list above, you are not legally allowed to work between midnight and 6:00 a.m. on any day of the week.

If you are work at a business that is NOT in the list above, then you may work between midnight and 6:00 a.m. as long as you and your employer follow certain rules. These rules are:

  • Your employer must have your parent’s or guardian’s written permission; and
  • You must be directly supervised at all times by someone 18 years or older.

In addition, you should also know that the Director of Employment Standards can put conditions on your employment if he or she decides it is appropriate and/or necessary.

Legal Authorities

Reviewed 08/15


My boss won’t pay me. What can I do?

Many problems are simple errors that can be sorted out quickly through clear communication, with this in mind the first step is to talk to your manager or boss about why you haven’t been paid. If your problem is about regular wages, overtime or some other type of pay, it might be corrected in your next pay cheque.

By law the maximum pay period that can be used by an employer to calculate earnings is 1 month, and you must be paid within 10 days after the end of each pay period. That means the maximum amount of time your employer can go without paying you is 41 days.

If you quit your job or if you were fired:

The timelines around you getting paid depend on your circumstances, please read all the below scenarios to see which one applies to you. If you are unsure which situation reflects yours, please feel free to send us an email through our ‘Ask a Lawyer’ contact form on this website.

  • If you quit your job and you gave the required amount of written notice of termination and worked to the end of that period:
  • Your employer must pay you within 3 days after your last day of employment. The same applies if your employer fires you but gives the required amount of written notice and you work until the end of the notice (Usually 1 or 2 weeks’ notice depending on how long you have worked the job).
  • If an employer provides a combination of the required amount of written notice and pay in lieu of notice and you work to the end of the notice period:
    • You are entitled to your pay within 3 days of your last day of employment. The same applies if your employer chooses to pay termination pay in lieu of the required amount of written notice.
  • If you haven’t worked at your job long enough for notice of termination to be required (usually 3 months), if you quit or if you are fired without notice:
  • Your employer has 10 days from your last day of employment to pay you.
  • If you have worked at your job for long enough to require notice of termination but you quit without giving notice
  • Your employer is only required to pay you within 10 days of when your last day of employment would have been had you given proper notice. This could amount to over two weeks after your last day of actual employment (for example 1 week notice + 10 days).

Filing an official complaint:

If your employer has not followed the law set out in the Employment Standards Code you may wish to file a complaint with Alberta Employment Standards. The Government will not get involved with your situation unless you can demonstrate that you have already tried to work things out with your employer. That’s why it’s important to write down your concerns, take notes during conversations with your employer and keep copies of your letters or emails.

If talking with your employer doesn’t solve the problem, you can generate a Request for Payment Letter within the online complaint that you will send directly to your employer. To generate a Request for Payment Letter, visit http://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards/1697.html or call Employment Standards at 1‑877‑427‑3731 or 780‑427‑3731 for help. 

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 7. – Pay periods maximum 1 month long.
  •  Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 8. – Employer must pay wages within 10 days of the last day of the designated pay period.
  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 9. – Rules concerning payment of wages when employer terminates employee.
  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 10. – Rules concerning payment of wages when employee terminates employment.
  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 55(2). – Notice required of employers.
  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 58. – Notice required of employees.

 

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Can my employer fire me because I have a youth criminal record?

It depends. If you lied about having a youth record when you applied for the job and your employer discovers that you do have a record, it could be considered “just cause”, which means they have a valid reason for firing you. If you have a new youth record, you do not necessarily have to tell your employer, especially if the offence you committed doesn’t matter for your job.

New Criminal Charges:

If you didn’t have a youth record when you were hired and have since been charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”), your employer can only fire you if the offence you committed has put their customers, employees or business at risk. For example, if you work in a retail store and were charged with theft for shoplifting, your charge could be a good reason for them to fire you or ‘grounds for termination’. If you work in a retail store and you were charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your charge is not likely grounds for termination because your job doesn’t involve driving motor vehicles and you breaking that law won’t affect your work.

Do you have to tell your employer that you have a new record?

If you are found guilty under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (“YCJA”) your record will be kept private and your name will not be released to the public (including employers), unless it was a violent crime. One exception is government employers, who are allowed to access your record.

If you are charged with a criminal offence you should consider what is on your record and whether it is relevant to your job. If you think that you will learn your lesson and complete your sentence without it negatively affecting your work, you probably do not need to tell your employer. However, if your employer finds out that you have a record and that you hid it from them, this could be a good reason for them to fire you.

Completion of a sentence under the YCJA:

After you have completed your sentence under the YCJA, your record will show you as being found not guilty or having not been convicted of the offence you were charged with. Therefore, once you have completed your sentence, you can legally tell employers that you have never been convicted of a criminal offence. After the access period to your record expires, it will be sealed or destroyed.

Multiple offences:

If you commit another offence before your youth record is sealed or destroyed, your record will remain open until you have finished serving both of your sentences. If you commit an offence as an adult while you are still serving a sentence under the YCJA, your record will remain open forever and your youth offence(s) will show as conviction(s) on your permanent record. Employers will usually have access to your permanent criminal record.

Legal Authorities

  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 82 – Effect of termination of youth sentence
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 118 – No access to youth records
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 119(1)(o) – Government employers may conduct criminal record check
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 120(4) – Subsequent youth sentences
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 120(6) – Subsequent offence as an adult
  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, s 55 – Options for terminating employment

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I have applied to a company for a job. Can that company force me to tell them about my youth criminal record?

No. A youth record is private and a company cannot force you to tell them about it. However, many jobs will require you to obtain a criminal record check before they will consider your application. If you refuse to get a criminal record check the company will not likely consider you for the job.

If you have completed your sentence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act:

After you have completed your sentence under the YCJA, your record will show you as being found not guilty or having not been convicted of the offence you were charged with. Therefore, once you have completed your sentence, you can legally tell employers that you have never been convicted of a criminal offence. After the access period to your record expires, it will be sealed or destroyed.

Exception for multiple offences:

If you commit another offence before your youth record is sealed or destroyed, your record will remain open until you have finished serving both of your sentences. If you commit an offence as an adult while you are still serving a sentence under the YCJA, your record will remain open forever and your youth offence(s) will show as conviction(s) on your permanent record. Employers will usually have access to your permanent criminal record.

Legal Authorities

  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 82 – Effect of termination of youth sentence
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 118 – No access to youth records
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 119(1)(o) – Government employers may conduct criminal record check
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 120(4) – Subsequent youth sentences
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1, s 120(6) – Subsequent offence as an adult

 Reviewed 09/16


Can I work in restaurants that serve alcohol?

Yes, if you are not serving alcohol you can work in a restaurant that serves alcohol under a “Class A” liquor licence, which means that food is the primary source of business.

In Alberta, you must be 18 years old (or older) to serve or carry liquor, so if you are working as a server the restaurant will require you to have an adult deliver any alcoholic drinks that customers may order. You also must be at least 18 years old to act as a manager in a restaurant that serves alcohol.

Many restaurants that serve a significant amount of alcohol will hire young people as hostesses, bussers, or kitchen staff until they are legally allowed to serve alcohol.

Legal Authorities

  • Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Alta Reg 143/96, s 94(1) – No person may employ a minor for the sale or serving of liquor in licensed premises.
  • Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, Licensee Handbook, s 3.1.1/ s.3.1.2 – Minors Allowed/Minors Prohibited 

 Reviewed 09⁄16


My boss sent me home early after only 2 hours. Is getting sent home early against the law? Does my boss have to pay me for a certain amount of hours?

An employer must pay you for a minimum of 3 hours per shift, even if your boss chooses to let you go early.

The only exception is if you are between the ages of 12 and 14, and are working on a day where you are required to attend school. In this case your employer only has to pay you for a minimum of 2 hours per shift. If you are working on a weekend or a holiday, your employer must pay you the normal minimum of three hours.

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Regulation, Alta Reg 14/97, s 11 –– Employment for less than 3 hours 

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Can I be fired without notice? Under what circumstances can my employer fire me?

You can be fired without notice during your three month “probationary period”. This means that at any time during your first 3 months on the job, your boss has the power to fire you on the spot. If you have been employed more than once by the same employer within 3 months, your probation period will be calculated from the start date of your first period of employment.

After your 3 month probationary period, you get the right to notice of termination in most situations. This means that you will be given an opportunity to continue working for a set period as you prepare for your termination. How much notice your employer needs to provide depends on how long you have been employed. One week notice is required if you have been employed between 3 months and 2 years, and the notice requirements go up from there. As long as the reason for your termination is not discriminatory, your employer has the power to terminate you with appropriate notice.

When your employer has ‘just cause’ – which means you have done something so serious that you have essentially broken the employment relationship – you can be fired without termination notice no matter how long you have been employed. Theft, dishonesty, and violence are some examples of conduct for which your employer has just cause to fire you. Termination without notice is also available to your employer in a variety of other situations, including when you refuse work given to you by a senior employee, when unforeseeable and unpreventable events make it impossible for the work to be done, or when you are a seasonal worker and the season of your employment has come to an end.

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, ss. 54, 55(2), 56

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What is the difference between an employee and a contractor?

An employee works for an employer that controls the work to be done.

A contractor acts as their own boss and sells their services to someone else.

If you are under 18, you are most likely an employee rather than a contractor, although a job as a paper delivery person is an exception.

In Alberta, the Employment Standards Code sets minimum standards in the workplace for employees. Labour and employment law, like minimum wage and overtime pay, are regulated by this code. The Employment Standards Code does not apply to contractors because they are considered to act as their own employers. This means that certain standards, like minimum wage pay, are not applicable to a contractor.  Instead, contractors are responsible for setting their own rate of pay and contributing to their own pension plans.

It can be difficult to determine whether you are an employee or a contractor, and ultimately the decision is made by the Canadian Revenue Agency when you file taxes. As a minor, you usually wouldn’t make enough money as a contractor to have to pay taxes and this distinction wouldn’t be of concern.

If you are unsure if the Employment Standards Code is applicable to your job you can get support from us by calling  403-207-9029 or by emailing us through the Ask a Lawyer section of this website.

Legal Authorities

 Reviewed 09⁄16


Can I work in the United States or another country?

Every country has its own unique employment laws. If you are a permanent resident or citizen of Canada, that gives you the right to live and work only in Canada. Canadian citizens are able to enter the United States without applying for a visa beforehand; it is illegal to work while in the United States if you enter the country without a work visa.

If you want to live and work in the United States or another country for a short period of time, you may be eligible to apply for a work holiday visa to certain countries that Canada has made an agreement with.

If you would like to work in another country permanently you will have to find an employer who can sponsor you or contact an immigration lawyer in the country you wish to work in.

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If I offer to cut lawns or shovel driveways for a certain amount of money, am I entitled to receive that money once the job is done?

If you offer to do work and someone agrees to pay you in exchange for your work, you are entitled to receive that money once the job is done. Both verbal agreements and written agreements are considered legal contracts that force both people to carry out their promises.

The person you are working for must agree to the work before you begin. If you cut a lawn or shovel a driveway before the owner or tenant of the property agrees to pay you, they will not be forced to pay you for your work.

If you want to perform some yard work for money it would be smart to write out a basic agreement that explains:

  • the work that you will perform
  • when you will do the work
  • how much you will charge
  • Have both you and the person you are working for sign it!

A written agreement in this form could put pressure on someone to pay you what they agreed to without having to go to court (which can be very expensive).

Legal Authorities

  • Toronto Marlboro Major Junior “A” Hockey Club v Tonelli, 1979 CarswellOnt 1429

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