f you run a business that employs a lot of young people, you need to know the legal age to work in Ontario. While most people will tell you that the minimum legal age for working in the province is 14 years of age, this isn’t actually true for all industries and workplaces.
According to the Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, there isn’t actually a minimum age for work in Ontario. Instead, the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act has outlined minimum age requirements for different industries and workplaces.
With no universal minimum legal age for work across all workplaces in Ontario, it’s no surprise that there has been some confusion among employers. So to help you navigate this tricky part of the Ontario labour laws, we’ve created a quick reference guide to the legal age to work in Ontario. In this guide, we’ll cover:
- The minimum legal age to work for different types of industries and workplaces
- Other restrictions on the age of workers in Ontario
- The minimum age to visit certain Ontario workplaces
Whether you operate an ice cream truck or an automotive garage, this guide will explain everything you need to know about the legal age to work in Ontario.
What is the Minimum Legal Age to Work in Ontario?
For most types of work, the minimum age to work in Ontario is 14 years of age. Just like any other employee in the province, these young employees are entitled to minimum wage (though the rate is different for some students under 18), holiday pay, and up to three days of unpaid job-protected sick leave each calendar year.
However, as mentioned above, the legal age for working in Ontario does vary by industry and workplace. This is because some jobs are riskier or require a more specialized skill set. As a result, some industries like construction and mining require employees to be older than 14 years of age.
The Minimum Ages for Different Types of Workplaces in Ontario
For the following industries and workplace, the minimum legal age to work in Ontario is outlined below:
While these guidelines are fairly straightforward for some workplaces, the rules are a little trickier for others.
For example, the kitchen area of a restaurant would be considered a factory, which means that the minimum legal age for working is 15 years old. However, operating a cash register at the front of the restaurant would be considered a retail job, which means the minimum legal age to work is just 14 years old.
It’s also important to note that some employers set their own policies for the minimum wage for work. For instance, you might be able to legally hire 16 year olds to work at your company, but you might put a policy in place that requires employees to be at least 18 or older.
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. In other words, someone who is 15 years old may be legally able to work in your pizza shop, but not at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday when school is in session.
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."
What is the Minimum Age to Visit Ontario Workplaces?
The minimum legal age to work in Ontario is one thing, but did you know there is also a minimum legal age just to visit certain workplaces in the province?
That’s right, according to the Regulation for Industrial Establishments made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, visitors to the following types of workplaces must meet certain age requirements:
Persons younger than the specified age may visit, but not work in the above establishments as long as they are:
- Are accompanied by a person who has reached the age of majority (18 years of age);
- are part of a guided tour of the industrial establishment; or
- are in an area of the industrial establishment that’s either used for sales purposes or is an area that the public generally has access to.
When it comes to the legal age to work in Ontario, the rules are pretty straightforward for most industries. And as long as you follow the guidelines for your specific industry and ensure that any workers under the age of 16 aren’t employed during school hours, you’ll be in full compliance with the Ontario labour laws.