What is school/work balance?

School/work balance is the balance between the time young people spend working their job and dedicating time to their studies (classes, homework, exams, extracurricular activities, commute, internships, personal life).

+ Good school/work balance
Even though a young person works during their studies, they act in a way that guarantees the different parts of their lives remain compatible, without negative effects on their health, their well-being and their school results.

– Bad school/work balance

Work can have a negative influence on school motivation, stress, exhaustion and quality of life of young people, who may then feel like they don’t have enough time to do everything.

In the event of an unbalance, they must compromise and adjust their schedule to make sure they prioritize their studies and persevere until they obtain a diploma or certification.


Are you looking for your first job?

Did you know? In the province of Québec, the law says you can only start working at the age of 14, except in some types of work.

In these situations, your employer must obtain the written consent of your parents using this form (French only).

If you’re 14 years or older and you wish to get advice for your job search, here are some tips:

  • Take a look at the My first steps in the world of work website, created by the Jeunes En Tête Foundation;
  • If you’re 15 years or older and you wish to get advice to write your resume or practise your interview techniques, contact your local Carrefour Jeunesse-Emploi. Their services are free and personalized.

Here is more relevant information about pay and types of wages.

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There are many benefits to having a job during your studies, but if certain conditions aren’t met, the combination of school and work could have negative consequences on your school success and your health.

Young people who have a hard time balancing school and work are three times more likely to think about dropping out.

What are the pros and cons of working during your studies?

Positive aspects

  • You explore the labour market.
  • You learn more about you and your interests.
  • You increase your financial autonomy and your professional skills.
  • You build personal discipline.
  • You improve your sense of responsibilities and your organizational skills.
  • You build significant relationships with adults.


  • You have less time and energy for your studies and your social life.
  • Your focus and motivation in school are negatively affected.
  • You are frequently absent from school or you arrive late to your classes.
  • You develop unhealthy life habits (substance use, eating disorders, sleep issues).
  • You are more at risk of injuries or work accidents.
  • You may feel mental distress (stress, exhaustion, etc.).
  • Tu peux ressentir de la détresse psychologique (stress, fatigue, etc.).
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How can you find a good balance between your studies and your work?

Maintaining a healthy balance between the time you dedicate to your studies and the time you spend working is one of the key elements to prioritize your school success. Generally speaking, the more hours you work in a week, the harder it may be to effectively balance your studies and your job.

The maximum number of hours a student can work without threatening their school success varies from person to person, BUT:

  • Between the ages of 14 and 16, you cannot work more than 17 hours per week, including the weekend, except during the holidays, school break weeks and the summer. From Monday to Friday, you can work 10 hours, at most, not more!
  • If you are under 16 years old, the person who employs you has to make sure that your work schedule is not keeping you from being in class, and that you are home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next day;
  • If you are 17 years or older and studying full-time, be realistic in the number of hours you can work, and opt for a part-time job (ideally between 10 and 15 hours per week, and at most 20 hours).

Considering the combination of activities

The combination of school activities, paid activities and personal activities is the most important factor to consider in your reflection on the subject of school/work balance.

  • How much time and energy do you dedicate to each aspect of your life?
  • Is your time split in a way that helps you prioritize your health, your studies and your well-being?

Remember that there are only 168 hours in a week, and that your first responsibility is to be a student!

Hobbies, sports, friends, family, transportation (to school, to activities, to work, etc.)
Time in class, school work (studies, homework, team projects, etc.)
Paid work (or internships)
Self care and meals, sleep

Is your lifestyle in line with your priorities?

Your life as a student comes with constant changes, especially at certain periods in the school year, or when transitioning to a higher level of studies.

Your job can also bring about a certain stress and require that you adjust.

Various events could also happen in your life and easily tip the scale into an unbalance.

Regardless of the challenges you are facing, you can build a feeling of control over your life by setting your priorities effectively and by using the right time management strategies.

Prioritizing is not an innate ability, so everyone can learn to do it. You only need to practise often and readjust as needed.

  • Eliminate the non-essential activities and focus on what really matters (your health and your studies are priorities!);
  • Define the scope of the various aspects of your life and try to fully work on one task at a time in order to be more focused and more productive;
  • Choose a healthy lifestyle that is favourable to your school success.

Paying attention to work particularities

A healthy school/work balance doesn’t depend only on the number of hours worked in a week. The quality of your job is another factor you need to consider.

For example, a young person who works 6 hours per week in difficult conditions can suffer more negative impacts than another who works 15 hours in good conditions.

Certain job types have particularities that can make you more vulnerable to work accidents and negatively impact your school perseverance.

Relational: tense situations with clients, unhealthy work atmosphere, difficult work relations with your boss or with some of your colleagues;
Physical: work standing up, need to handle heavy loads, noisy environment, repetitive movements;
Scheduling: number of hours of work, number of consecutive work hours, evening or night shifts, work during school days;
Organizational: heavy work load, lack of training before starting to work, not enough time to complete the tasks, work that requires a lot of concentration, frequent interruptions when working on your tasks, repetitive tasks.

Is the labour market more attractive to you than your studies?

The proportion of young people who work during the school year has increased in the last few years. If you are a part of this majority, you may sometimes feel pressured to work even more hours every week, either because of your financial obligations or because your employer asks you to.

But be careful! Experts agree that the more you work, the more your studies are at risk. If you find the labour market attractive and you choose to quit school without a diploma or certification, you may feel the negative impacts in many aspects of your life.

Negative impacts of dropping out of school

  • Not as many opportunities of career progression and limited income;
  • Reduced number of options when changing jobs (after being fired or if you want to change careers, for example);
  • More risks that your job becomes automated or done in conjunction with robots in the near future;
  • Negative health impacts (smoking, drug use, eating disorders);
  • Social isolation or depression.

Would you be able to recognize an accommodating employer?

By working in a business or organization that cares for its student employees, you will be able to rely on a boss that wishes to see you prioritize your studies, while also getting a fulfilling work experience. Did you know that 69% of Québec businesses believe in the importance of the school success of the students they employ? You can recognize them by these behaviours:

  • They respect the standards of the province in terms of hiring and school attendance;
  • They offer young people a flexible and adapted schedule, ideally between 10 and 15 hours per week, with a maximum of 20 hours;
  • They plan for a lighter schedule during school projects and exam periods;
  • They encourage their young employees to pursue their studies until they receive their first diploma;
  • They implement a process to welcome, guide and oversee their young employees.

Work accidents rose by 36% in teens under 16 years of age in 2021.


Do you have concerns about your health and safety at work?

If you are working a first job, you are more likely to get injured in your first few weeks as an employee. You will still be getting accustomed to certain tasks and to your new environment.

Your workplace can also be physically demanding and require you to handle heavy loads, or make repetitive movements, be exposed to extreme temperatures, etc. Considering these risks is very important. And you must understand that you are not invincible!

Read this information card to learn more about your rights, responsibilities and obligations regarding labour standards and occupational health and safety. (French only)

Your employer also has responsibilities.

According to the laws enforced by the CNESST*, your employer must offer a safe and healthy work environment. They also have obligations to fulfill regarding the working conditions of their employees.

If you are under 16 years old:
Your boss must identify and analyze the potential dangers that could affect your health and safety.

If you are under 18 years old:
Your boss cannot:

  • assign you tasks that are too demanding for your capacity;
  • assign you tasks that could jeopardize your studies or that could put your health, or your physical and moral development, at risk.

If you believe that your rights aren’t respected, call 1 844 838-0808 (CNESST) or visit the following website: (French only).

 * The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec (CNESST) is the organization mandated by the government of Québec to promote worker and employer rights and obligations related to work. They ensure that these rights and obligations are respected by all parties.

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