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Minimum Age

  • Issued: August 2015
  • Content last reviewed: August 2015

Is there a minimum age for work under the Employment Standards Act, 2000?

No. But there are minimum age requirements for certain industries and workplaces set by other laws. The Occupational Health and Safety Act sets the minimum ages to work as follows:

  • 18 years of age for underground mines
  • 16 years of age at a mining plant or surface mine
  • 18 years of age for window cleaning
  • 16 years of age for construction and logging operations
  • 15 years of age for factory operations and repair shops
  • 14 years of age for all other industrial establishments.

Are there any other restrictions on the age of workers?

Under the Education Act, with certain exceptions, children must attend school until the age of 18 and employers are prohibited from employing children under the age of 16 years during school hours. However, children aged 14 years and older may be excused from school to attend supervised alternative learning programs, which may include employment.

Some regulations made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act set the minimum age for working in Ontario workplaces. Regulations under other statutes set minimum ages for various occupations. In addition, some employers have their own policies for minimum ages in the workplace.

What are the minimum ages for various types of workplaces?

Table 1: Minimum age requirements to work in Ontario workplaces [1][3]
Type of workplace Age to work
Industrial establishments such as offices, stores, arenas, restaurant serving areas 14
Most factories including restaurant kitchens, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation or shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores, laundries and warehouses 15
Logging operations 16

Age to visit

The Regulation for Industrial Establishments (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 851) made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out minimum-age restrictions for workers covering workplaces such as offices, stores, arenas, restaurants and factories, but people younger than the specified age may visit, though not work in the above establishments if they:

  • are accompanied by a person who has attained the age of majority (eighteen years of age);
  • are being guided on a tour of the industrial establishment (e.g. office, store, arena or factory);
  • are in an area of the industrial establishment used for sales purposes; or
  • are in an area of the industrial establishment to which the public generally has access.
Table 2: Minimum age requirements to work and visit in Ontario workplaces [3]
Type of workplace Age to work Age to visit
Construction project 16 16, if work is being performed there.
Surface mines, mining plants 16 See note[2] below the table.
Underground mine 18 See note[2] below the table.
Working face of a surface mine 18 See note[2] below the table.
Window cleaning 18 Not applicable.


Notes

[1] The above restrictions do not apply to a worker who works as a performer in the entertainment and advertising industry as defined in subsection 4(4) of the Regulation for Industrial Establishments.

[2] The Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 854) made under the OHSA allows for tours or visits to mines and mining plants by younger persons if they are accompanied by and under the direction of a guide.

[3] 14, 15, 16 and 17-year olds may not be employed during school hours unless they are excused from school attendance under the Education Act. See Ontario Regulation 374/10, “Supervised Alternative Learning and Other Excusals from Attendance at School."