At What Age Can A Child Legally Start To Work In Ontario?

According to Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), there is a minimum age that a child can work in Ontario. Of course, children can work in Ontario but they have to be of a certain age and there are jobs they can do without breaking the rule. As a parent, you must abide by family law when caring for your children or wards and ensure that they do not work underaged. Given this, read more to know what age a child can legally start to work in Ontario. 

The minimum age for a child to work in Ontario is 14 years but each industry has a minimum age requirement for children. However, family law advice regarding the child’s decision to work must be sought by the parent to avoid breaking the law. The following are the minimum age a child can start to work according to each industry: 

1. 14 Years Old

A child must be at least 14 years old to work in stores, offices, restaurant serving areas and arenas. A child that is younger than 14 years old must not be employed in these industries in Ontario. 

However, if a child chooses to work as a performer in the entertainment and advertising industry, the age restrictions of 14 to 15 years old minimum age can be set aside according to the Regulation for Industrial Establishments in subsection 4(4). 

2. 15 Years Old

A child must not be younger than 15 years old to work in factories, such as repair shops, assembly or manufacturing plants, automotive service garages, warehouses, laundries (a hotel or public hospital), shipping and receiving departments in grocery stores, meat preparation in grocery stores and restaurant kitchens. 

3. 16 Years Old 

A child must be at least 16 years old to work in jobs involving logging operations, a surface mine or mining plant except for the working face, and construction, except working as a shaft attendant where a hoist is being used (must be 19 years old).

4. 18 Years Old

A child that intends to work in an underground mine, a surface mine, offshore on or from an oil or gas rig or involved in a window cleaning job must be at least 18 years old. At 18 years old, a child has become adult according to family law and can decide to work. The parent, employer or the child will not be breaking the law.

5. 19 Years Old

A child must not be younger than 19 years of age to work as a shaft attendant on a construction project involving the use of a hoist.

Restrictions On Children Working

All children are required to attend school from 6 to 18 years of age. As a result, employers are restricted from employing children under 16 during school hours. Meanwhile, children from age 14 to 17 to be excused from school attendance under certain provisions of Ontario’s Education Act if the job relates to supervised alternative learning programs, which may include employment. Refer to Ontario Regulation 374/10, Supervised Alternative Learning and Other Excusals from Attendance at School. Regardless, parents must refer to the family law provisions when their children decide to work.

By Christine Mayle