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Minimum age requirements

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?

Minimum age requirements to work in and visit Ontario workplaces

Type of workplace

Age to work

Age to visit

Industrial establishments such as offices, stores, arenas, restaurant serving areas


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 these 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.

Most factories including restaurant kitchens, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation or shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores, laundries and warehouses


Logging operations


Note: 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.

Construction project


16, if work is being performed there.

Surface mines, mining plants


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.

Underground mine


Working face of a surface mine


Window cleaning


Not applicable.

Note: 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."

Section 1 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act sets out definitions for "industrial establishment," "factory," "mine," "mining plant," "logging," "construction" and "project". Here are some of those definitions:

Definitions from section 1(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

"industrial establishment" means an office building, factory, arena, shop or office, and any land, buildings and structures appertaining thereto;

"factory" means,

(a) a building or place other than a mine, mining plant or place where homework is carried on, where,

    (i) any manufacturing process or assembling in connection with the manufacturing of any goods or products is carried on,

     (ii) in preparing, inspecting, manufacturing, finishing, repairing, warehousing, cleaning or adapting for hire or sale any substance, article or thing, energy is,
       (A) used to work any machinery or device, or
       (B) modified in any manner,

   (iii) any work is performed by way of trade or for the purposes of gain in or incidental to the making of any goods, substance, article or thing or part thereof,

   (iv) any work is performed by way of trade or for the purposes of gain in or incidental to the altering, demolishing, repairing, maintaining, ornamenting, finishing, storing, cleaning, washing or adapting for sale of any goods, substance, article or thing, or

   (v) aircraft, locomotives or vehicles used for private or public transport are maintained,

(b) a laundry including a laundry operated in conjunction with,
   (i) a public or private hospital,
   (ii) a hotel, or
   (iii) a public or private institution for religious, charitable or educational purposes, and

(c) a logging operation;

"logging" means the operation of felling or trimming trees for commercial or industrial purposes or for the clearing of land, and includes the measuring, storing, transporting or floating of logs, the maintenance of haul roads, scarification, the carrying out of planned burns and the practice of silviculture;

"construction" includes erection, alteration, repair, dismantling, demolition, structural maintenance, painting, land clearing, earth moving, grading, excavating, trenching, digging, boring, drilling, blasting, or concreting, the installation of any machinery or plant, and any work or undertaking in connection with a project but does not include any work or undertaking underground in a mine;

"project" means a construction project, whether public or private, including,

(a) the construction of a building, bridge, structure, industrial establishment, mining plant, shaft, tunnel, caisson, trench, excavation, highway, railway, street, runway, parking lot, cofferdam, conduit, sewer, watermain, service connection, telegraph, telephone or electrical cable, pipe line, duct or well, or any combination thereof,

(b) the moving of a building or structure, and

(c) any work or undertaking, or any lands or appurtenances used in connection with construction;

"mine" means any work or undertaking for the purpose of opening up, proving, removing or extracting any metallic or non-metallic mineral or mineral-bearing substance, rock, earth, clay, sand or gravel;

"mining plant" means any roasting or smelting furnace, concentrator, mill or place used for or in connection with washing, crushing, grinding, sifting, reducing, leaching, roasting, smelting, refining, treating or research on any substance mentioned in the definition of "mine";

Can employers set minimum ages for jobs within their workplaces?

Some workplaces have established their own, more stringent minimum ages for employment. For instance, some retail establishments and restaurant chains will not hire anyone under the age of 16, even though the legislated minimum age limit is lower. Similarly, some industrial establishments, and other workplaces that require the use of heavy equipment or machinery, will not hire anyone under the age of 18, even though the legislated minimum age limit might be lower.

Such in-house minimum age requirements may be acceptable, as long as the limits do not conflict with the Ontario Human Rights Code or other applicable law.

What do I do if I'm not sure how the minimum age requirements apply where I want to work?

If you're unsure if there is a minimum age requirement for the place where you want to work, ask the Ministry of Labour online or call the Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre.

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