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Youth employment law addresses safety and human rights concerns

As students across the country move into a higher grade this September, many will be thinking about getting their first part-time job. Young people in Alberta should know about their rights under provincial employment law. This legislation protects young workers against unsafe work, lack of supervision and other human rights concerns.

Work can always carry risks, but employers in Alberta are responsible for providing safe workplaces. This includes safety training for all employees based on provincial standards. Many workplaces also can provide training on harassment and create clear standards for management to minimize human rights concerns in the workplace.

Adolescents older than 12 but less than 15 years of age can only work in jobs with low risk of injury. Under the law, injury is not only physical harm but also encompasses harm to a person's life, education or welfare. As a result, adolescents of this age are typically limited to jobs as clerks, delivery persons or certain food-service occupations. Workplaces must acquire a permit for any other occupations where an adolescent is hired to work, and permits are always denied to those hiring in the construction industry or jobs involving heavy machinery.

While teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 have less restrictions on types of employments they can pursue, the hours they can work and level of supervision they require are still limited under Alberta law. People who have human rights concerns about a young person working in the province can benefit from speaking to a lawyer about their concerns. A civil lawyer can explain what responsibilities a workplace has under the law and can inform a concerned party about his or her options for recourse.

Source: Red Deer Advocate, "Employers must keep staff, including teens, safe", Charles Strachey, Fri. Sept 8, 2017

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