VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Changes coming to British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act are meant to protect young people from doing dangerous jobs and all workers from having their rights violated.
Labour Minister Harry Bains says since 2003 children as young as 12 have been getting hurt on the job.
“They are allowed to work any job, mining, heavy duty construction, that kind of stuff,” he says. “$5 million were paid to children 14 and 15 and under who were hurt at the workplace and at dangerous workplaces.”
Bains tells NEWS 1130 children are still allowed to work in the entertainment industry as long as they have permission from their parents and they can do other jobs that are not deemed dangerous, like having a newspaper route.
“Fourteen and 15-year-olds will be allowed to work in light duty, which will be decided through regulations,” he says. “Now other jurisdictions already have done a lot of work on this, but anything that is considered to be dangerous work, then the age would be 16-plus.”
Bains says the Employment Standards Act is also being updated to ensure wages are not held back by employers and bans them from sharing tips, except under certain circumstances.
“As far as the tips are concerned and also, some wages were not paid, so there are some workers more vulnerable than others, especially temporary foreign workers, so many students out there.”
Bains says this legislation, which hasn’t been significantly updated in 15 years, includes extended leaves for new parents or people caring for a loved one, as well as victims of domestic violence.
BC Federation of Labour President Laird Cronk is welcoming the proposed changes, saying they improve fairness for workers and bring B.C. in line with international standards.
“Providing a more just level of protection for B.C. workers, while removing barriers to access to justice,” he says. “Employment standards are particularly important for the most vulnerable workers in society, such as women, immigrants, minorities, young workers, and precarious workers.”