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As the workforce continually adapts to new generations of workers entering and leaving, many traditions that were seen as norms in the past are no longer the norms we see today in 2022. For example, throughout history, children were expected to commence work as early as age 7 to help their families. Presently, we have minimum age working standards whereby young people can participate in the workforce in specific circumstances, depending on their age and area of employment. 

The question of “when is the right time to join the workforce?” is an age-old question. To “let your child be a child” or “to teach your children to work for the things they want” are two opposing parenting tactics, where there is no right or wrong answer. However, a good first job can be beneficial for a variety of reasons: 

1. It can teach young people valuable lessons relating to employment and earning their own money;

2. It can provide structure and routine; and 

3. It can allow them to learn more about their interests or disinterests that may lead to other opportunities.

With young people entering the workforce, there may be concerns from a legal perspective. We at Sultan Lawyers discuss labour laws in Ontario, the minimum age requirements to work, and the most common jobs in which young people commence employment.


Below are specific and relevant labour laws relating to youth entering the workforce.

Education Act, 1990: The purpose of education is to allow students to realize their potential and develop into highly skilled, knowledgeable, caring citizens who contribute to their society. While age requirements are one factor in determining the minimum age to work in Ontario, it’s critical to note the educational obligations of those under 18. Considering this, the Education Act prohibits students between the ages of 14-and 17 to work during school hours unless they possess some sort of entitlement under the Education Act, such as Ontario Regulation 374/10 “Supervised Alternative Learning and Other Excusals from Attendance at School“. 

Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990: The main purpose of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is to provide the legal framework to achieve our goal of protecting workers from health and safety hazards on the job by setting out duties for all workplace parties and rights for workers to help establish a strong internal responsibility system in the workplace.

Employment Standards Act, 2000: This legislation aims to provide the minimum standards, legal rights, and responsibilities of both employers and employees protected under the act.


The general minimum age to work in Ontario is 14 years for most types of employment. Similar to adult employees in the Province, youth employees are entitled to minimum wage (although some wage rates can vary for some students under 18) as well as holiday pay, and up to three days of unpaid job-protected sick leave each calendar year.

The legal age for working in Ontario varies by the industry and workplace environment dictated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This is because some jobs are more hazardous than others, or the position requires a more specialized skill set such as construction and mining.

Some regulations specify higher minimum ages for certain types of work, as follows:

·       Underground Mines: 18 years

·       Construction: 16 years

·       Window Cleaning: 18 years

·       Logging Operations: 16 years

·       Factories (including restaurants) or Repair Shops: 15 years

·       Stores, Shops, Offices or Arenas: 14 years.


According to the career search platform Monster, here we list the most common jobs for young people entering the workforce.

  1. Babysitter
  2. Barista
  3. Waitstaff, server, or host 
  4. Camp counsellor
  5. Car wash attendant
  6. Cashier
  7. Dishwasher/busser
  8. Dog walker
  9. Fast food worker
  10. Landscaper
  11. Lifeguard/swim instructor
  12. Mover
  13. Newspaper carrier
  14. Umpire/junior referee 
  15. Retail store associate


Parents and guardians can play an important role in helping the youth and young adults find their first job. Parents and/or guardians can assist young individuals to secure employment by:

  • Assisting with resume drafting and preparation;
  • Providing transportation to and from interviews or to drop off resumes;
  • Offering advice/suggestions during contract negotiations;
  • Practicing  interview questions and answers; and
  • Providing any necessary tools and resources.


Contact the Toronto employment lawyers at Sultan Lawyers for a free call back or flat-rate consultation to better understand youth workers’ rights and entitlements when entering the workforce. Please contact us by telephone at 416-214-5111 or here.

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