When you reach a certain age you might want to or need to start working. Part-time jobs can be great for putting money in your pockets so you can do things like pay bills, buy necessities, save for university or college and have fun with friends. There are rights and responsibilities that are important to be aware of when you are looking for a job or are already working. This section includes information on minimum wage, the right to refuse unsafe work, disAbility in the workplace and more.
Yes. You can get a job when you leave home. You can keep your own wages. There are laws that limit when and where you can work if you are school-aged. For example, you cannot work during school hours.
Every worker in Canada has these three rights. These rights apply to workers of every religion, age, race, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and to workers who are newcomers to Canada.
- The Right to Know what hazards are present on the job and how these affect you.
- The Right to Participate in health and safety activities.
- The Right to Refuse dangerous work. (You must report to your supervisor that you are refusing.)
You can start working in most occupations and industries between the ages of 14 and 16. There are slight changes depending on the province/territory you live in.
Working-age by province
Newfoundland and Labrador14
Nova ScotiaUnder 14, but with restrictions
Prince Edward IslandUnder 14, but with restrictions
SaskatchewanUnder 14, but with restrictions
You may need the permission of a parent/guardian in order to work. You may need permission from your school’s principal or the director of employment standards in your province/territory. You will need identity documents that include your social insurance number and photo identification, like your passport. Some workplaces may also require that you have a driver’s license or a liquor serving certification (for example, Ontario’s Smart Serve or Alberta’s ProServe certifications).
No. Most provinces/territories restrict the number of hours you can work. Each province/territory has their own laws that require you to be in school at certain times of the day. Young workers are not allowed to work at night or during normal school hours. In most provinces/territories young workers are not allowed to work more than two or three hours-a-day on school days. Young workers are not allowed to work more than 8 hours on non-school days. Workers under a certain age cannot work after 10 PM or 11 PM. If you are under 16 years of age, you can work up to 20 hours a week. Once you are over 16, you can work a maximum of 48 hours a week.
No. Generally, provinces/territories will prohibit minors (see Working-Age chart pg. 9) from working jobs that are difficult or dangerous. Minors are also prohibited from working in places that could have a bad effect on their moral development. For example, in New Brunswick minors under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in garages or nightclubs. In Canada minors are allowed to work on farms.
For some jobs, you will be required to sign a contract. Keep in mind that you cannot sign away your rights. If you sign a contract that is illegal, your boss is breaking the law, not you. As a general tip always read over your contract and any documents and forms your employer may give you. If you are unsure about the contract, ask an adult to review it with you.
You must be paid at least a minimum wage for every hour you are at work. You can be paid more than minimum wage, but that is up to your employer. The minimum wage is different in each province/territory. It can also depend on the job and if you are a student.
Minimum wage by province/territory
- $10.20 for liquor servers
- $9.60 for liquor servers
Newfoundland and Labrador
- $11.40 for general workers
- $9.90 for liquor servers
- $10.70 for students under 18 years of age (less than 28 hrs/wk)
Prince Edward Island
- $9.20 if tips apply
There are many reasons why workplaces prefer dress codes and uniforms. However, dress codes can sometimes be unfair, especially for people who identify as girls or young women. Some dress codes require employees to dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way at work. They could require pregnant women to wear high heels, short skirts, tight clothing or low-cut tops. These kinds of dress codes violate your rights. It reinforces stereotypical and sexist ideas about how women should look and dress. Your workplace is allowed to impose a dress code only if it
- has options for all levels of staff
- isn’t sexualized, revealing or gender-stereotypical
- has options that are comparable in terms of style, comfort, coverage and practicality (regardless of gender)
- offers sizes that fit a range of body types
- doesn’t include grooming/appearance rules that are more tedious for women than men
- allows for a range of hairstyles (unless for specific requirement, such as food preparation)
Workplace uniforms should be gender neutral, but sometimes they are not. You should have the choice of which uniform to wear if there are gender specific uniforms.
No. You have the right to be who you are. If you want to come out at work, you have every right to. You have the right to equal treatment and freedom from workplace discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. This right also includes freedom from discrimination based on
- place of origin
- record of offences
- family status
- religion/belief system
- disAbility (visible and invisible)
- national or ethnic origin
Legal decisions in the past have made it so that employers cannot use customers’ prejudices as an excuse for their own discrimination. This means that they can’t discriminate against you because their customers are rude.
All rights in the workplace apply to you, but you do have some additional rights. Your employer is responsible for keeping you safe and included. They do this by helping you do your job. This means removing barriers and putting in practices and policies.
Your rights include all of the mentioned rights and then some. You have the right to be addressed by your correct name and pronouns in the workplace. If employment records require gender or pronouns, these should reflect your preferred gender and pronouns. Employers should allow you to access the washrooms, change rooms and other gender-specific facilities based on your own gender identity. You have the right to privacy. If you wish to tell your employer you are Trans*, they do not have the right to tell others if you do not want them to know.
No. Everyone has the right to be free from unwelcomed sexual advances or remarks, touching and jokes in their place of employment (or anywhere). This includes everything from interviewing for a job, volunteer work or internships. It includes activities or events that happen outside of business hours or off the premises, but are still connected to the workplace and employment. If this is happening to you, you have the right to bring it to the attention of your employer’s human resources department, who will be able to deal with the situation further. If it is a small company or organization, and it is the person in charge that is harassing you, there are still things you can do and people you can tell. You can contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Unfortunately, even though it is illegal for your boss to fire you for speaking about your rights, many workers still get fired when they do. Make sure before you speak up about your rights that you have a support system in place, such as a parent/guardian, a trusted adult, friends or youth advocates, and that you are aware of the possible consequences (even unfair ones!).