In Quebec, you can start working most jobs when you’re 14 years old. Exceptionally, you can start working some jobs when you’re under 14. That said, if you still have to go to school, school has to come before work.
School Before Work
In Quebec, you have to go to school until the end of the school year when you turn 16.
So, until then, your employer must make sure that school comes before work when scheduling your shifts. For example, your employer can’t ask you to:
- skip school to work,
- work more than 17 hours a week, or
- work more than 10 hours between Monday and Friday.
However, your employer can ask you to work more hours during a school break that lasts more than seven days in a row.
Your employer also has to consider where you live and make sure you can get home from evening shifts by 11 p.m. and don’t have to leave home before 6 a.m. for morning shifts.
These rules about shifts don’t apply to these jobs:
- newspaper delivery job
- artistic creator or performer
- counsellor at a sleep-away camp
Working Before the Age of 14
Before the age of 14, you can’t work most jobs. However, exceptions apply to these types of jobs:
- artistic creator or performer,
- newspaper deliverer,
- tutor or a job providing homework assistance,
- a job at a family business with less than 10 employees, if it’s your parent’s business or the business of your parent’s partner or spouse,
- a job at a non-profit summer camp or recreational organization,
- assistant instructor, assistant coach or scorekeeper in a non-profit sports organization,
- a job at a farm with less than 10 employees, doing light manual labour. In this case, you must be at least 12 years old.
You need your parents’ written permission to work these jobs before you turn 14. The only time you don’t need your parents’ written permission is if you only babysit once in a while.
In the cases of work in a family business, in a non-profit summer camp, recreational or sports organization, or at a farm, you must work under adult supervision at all times.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international treaty signed by over 190 countries, including Canada. On purpose of the Convention is to make sure children around the world have fair working conditions.
For example, countries that signed the Convention must protect children from work that is harmful to their health or adversely affects their education or development.
According to the International Labour Organization, in 2016, about 152 million children worked. Of these children, 73 million did dangerous work. Dangerous work is work that is harmful to a child’s physical, mental or moral well-being, such as prostitution or slavery, or a job that requires too many hours or is too physically demanding.