Legal Working Age in Ontario

The legal working age in Ontario is defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (”OHSA”). It outlines different minimum ages for different industries and workplaces. It is not defined by the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”).

What is the minimum legal age to work in Ontario?

In Ontario, the minimum age to work for most jobs is 14 years old. Like all other employees in the province, these young workers are entitled to minimum wage (with certain exceptions for students under 18), holiday pay, and up to three days of unpaid, job-protected sick leave each calendar year.

However, it’s important to note that the legal working age in Ontario varies depending on the industry and workplace. Certain jobs, such as those in construction and mining, may have higher age requirements due to their inherent risks or specialized skill demands. As a result, employees in these industries may need to be older than 14 years old to work legally.

Minimum Working Age Type of Work
19 years old
  • shaft attendant for a shaft where a hoist is being used on a construction project
18 years old
  • in an underground mine or at the working face of a surface mine
  • in window cleaning
  • offshore on or from an oil or gas rig
16 years old
  • a mining plant or surface mine, excluding the working face
  • construction, excluding the role of shaft attendant for a shaft where a hoist is being used
  • a logging operation
15 years old
  • manufacturing or assembly plants
  • repair shops
  • restaurant kitchens
  • automotive service garages
  • produce and meat preparation in grocery stores
  • shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores
  • laundries (for example in a public hospital or a hotel)
  • warehouses
14 years old
  • offices
  • stores
  • arenas
  • restaurant serving areas

What is the minimum age to visit Ontario workplaces?

People who are too young to work in industrial establishments such as offices, stores, arenas, restaurants and factories are still allowed to visit those workplaces if any of the following conditions are met:

  • they are accompanied by someone who is at least 18 years old
  • they are being guided on a tour of the industrial establishment
  • they are in an area of the establishment used for sales purposes
  • they are in an area of the establishment that is accessible to the public

Unless accompanied by and under the direction of a guide, the following age restrictions apply to visit the following workplaces:

Minimum Age to Visit Workplace
18 years old
  • underground mines
  • the working face of a surface mine
16 years old
  • a construction project while work is being performed there
  • surface mines (excluding the working face) or mining plants, unless accompanied by and under the direction of a guide.

Other Restrictions on the Age of Workers in Ontario

While age requirements are one aspect of minimum age to work in Ontario, it’s also important to account for the educational obligations of those under 18.

Aside from certain exceptions, Ontario’s Education Act states that children must attend school until the age of 18 and that employers are prohibited from employing children younger than 16 during school hours. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as those excused from school attendance under Ontario Regulation 374/10 of the Education Act., “Supervised Alternative Learning and Other Excusals from Attendance at School.

Student Minimum Wage

Student minimum wage applies to students who are under the age of 18 and work 28 hours or less a week during the school term. This is inclusive of scheduled school breaks and summer holidays. Students who work more than 28 hours a week when school is in session are entitled to the general minimum wage.

For more information on the minimum wage, including student minimum wage, please visit Comprehensive Guide to Minimum Wage in Ontario.

Monkhouse Law is an employment law firm located in Toronto focusing on workers’ issues. Give us a call at 416-907-9249 or fill out this quick form. We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation.

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