Young people under 18 at work: the CNESST launches a campaign

Lia Lévesque, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The CNESST is launching a campaign aimed at employers who hire young people under the age of 18, as we see more and more of these young people at work, in the context of the scarcity of manpower.

The campaign of the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) will run throughout the summer.

A guide has been developed to explain the rules, laws and standards to be observed, if the young person is still of secondary school age, for example, or if they are under 14 years old.

Thus, an employer who hires a young person under the age of 14 must obtain written authorization from his parents and keep it for three years.

A young person under the age of 16 who does not have a Secondary 5 diploma must not have a work schedule that prevents him from going to school. Also, he must be able to stay at home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., even on weekends and in the summer.

Companies that are known to employ young people more often, such as in retail, restaurants, hotels and food processing, “will be the subject of particular attention”, the Commission said on Thursday.

Also, the CNESST reminds employers that “young people are particularly at risk of being victims of an accident at work”. Moreover, “the weeks following hiring are those when workers, of all ages, are most at risk of injury,” she points out.

Other rules prevail, such as the fact that a young person cannot have a job which exceeds his capacities according to his age or which compromises his education, his moral or physical development. He also cannot work too many consecutive hours for his age.

The Act respecting occupational health and safety provides for penalties in the case of employers who refuse to comply. The CNESST may also require corrective action when deficiencies are observed.

The Act respecting occupational health and safety provides for penalties between $1,818 and $3,632, which can reach $7,263 in the event of a second offense and $14,528 in the event of an additional offense.

Other fines are provided for in the Act respecting labor standards.

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