(Nov. 3/16) The New Brunswick government wants to prohibit teens under the age of 16 from having a job, and restrict working hours for 16- and 17-year-olds. The province is trying to comply with ILO Convention 138 http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1081459 that aims to eliminate the abuse and exploitation of children through child labour. As part of its proposal, N.B. wants to classify restaurant work as hazardous, which will deny thousands of teenagers first-job experience.

Here’s what the province is proposing for the restaurant industry:

minimum-age-table

Why this proposal hurts teens and employers

Many young people work in front-of-house restaurant positions (e.g. hostess, counter-attendant) to earn spending money, pay for extra-curricular activities, and save for their education. They also gain valuable first-job experience. Restaurants and other industries are concerned these new restrictions will reduce these opportunities for young people and worsen labour shortages.

Our recommendations

Restaurants Canada has been speaking with politicians in Ottawa, N.B. and other provinces about the value of first-time jobs in our industry. We recommend:

•not classifying first-time jobs in the foodservice industry as hazardous; and
•allowing restaurants to continue to provide first-time job experience to young people 15 years of age and older.

Read our full submission. (Login required.)

Read New Brunswick’s discussion paper on this proposal.

Quick facts about youth work in New Brunswick
•Restaurants are the number one first-job provider in Canada, with 22% of Canadians gaining their first job experience in a restaurant.
•N.B. has 23,500 restaurant employees, of which 4,800 are between 15 and 19 years of age.
•Restaurant industry’s flexible work hours are conducive to work/school balance.
•Most restaurant chains have policies for safety training and limiting hours of work for youth.
•Restaurant industry is low risk with an injury rate of 2.35 — most being minor injuries. This is below provincial target of 3.02. (Injury rates are accidents per 100 full-time workers.)
•New Brunswick currently grants between 300 to 400 exemptions per year for 14- to 15-year-olds in restaurants to work more than the prescribed number of hours.
•Teens and parents frequently ask restaurants for more work hours.

About the ILO Convention C138

On June 8, 2016 Canada signed on to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138, the “Minimum Age Convention, 1973.” It takes effect in Canada on June 8, 2017.

The Government of Canada specifies 16 to be the minimum age for work that doesn’t harm health or school work. The Convention specifies 18 to be the minimum age for work that “is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of young persons.”

Governments are to decide what this last condition includes after consulting with employer organizations and workers.

Most provinces allow for employment of youth under the age of 15. The federal government is encouraging provinces to adhere to the spirit of the convention. New Brunswick is the only province currently proposing legislative changes.

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