B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)

B.C. set to raise working age from 12 to 16, except for ‘light work’ at 14

NDP moves to tighten rules for sharing tips in restaurants, pubs

B.C. is changing its employment standards law to protect younger workers from dangerous jobs, and strengthen employees’ ability to take unpaid leave to search for a home or deal with other personal issues.

Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced changes in the B.C. legislature Monday that prohibits employers from withholding of tips from employees or deducting amounts from them. A new framework will allow tip pooling, but employers can only get a share when they do the same work as the other people in the pool.

The legislation raises the minimum age for working from 12 to 16, except for “light work” jobs such as stocking shelves at a grocery store, which 14- and 15-year-olds would still be able to do.

Bains said the changes will continue to allow young people to work on a family farm, or have a newspaper delivery route, and there will be an exemption for children to perform in music and entertainment with the permission of their parents. Chores that are not considered formal employment will not be affected, he said.

Bains said WorkSafeBC records in the past 10 years show $5 million paid out in injury claims for children who were doing paid work in hazardous conditions.

The legislation also creates a new system of job-protected unpaid leave for caring for seriously ill family members, and personal issues such as looking for a place to live.

The B.C. Building Trades praised the changes, particularly measures to target what executive director Tom Sigurdson called “organizations operating under the guise of being a trade union” whose agreements may be “substandard” according to the Employment Standards Act.

READ MORE: ‘Progressive’ unions shut out of public construction

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“There are a few organizations that purport to be unions but are really nothing more than dues collection agencies,” Sigurdson said. “Those organizations are employer-obedient and do nothing to represent workers’ interests.”

The B.C. Building Trades were given exclusive access for large public construction projects after Premier John Horgan’s government took office in 2017, prompting objections from contractors who work with the Christian Labour Association of Canada and others who are not B.C. Building Trades members. The BCBC consists mainly of U.S.-based international unions.


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