Starting your first job?

Did you know there are laws about young people in the workforce? 

Consider these scenarios

Mandeep is 14 years old and just started a summer job working at a construction project lifting supplies.

Jillian, age 15 decides to start a part time job which requires her to work during school hours. She starts the job immediately, without letting anyone know.

Marcel, 17 is super excited to for all the tips he will make by serving at a local bar which is licensed to serve alcohol.

Are they all allowed to be employed at these jobs?


According to Construction Projects Regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, John cannot be employed at a construction project or be present in such a workplace while work is being performed. This is because the law says you must be at least 16 years old to work in these types of jobs. 


Jillian’s employment during school hours violates the Education Act and Supervised Alternative Learning and Other Excusals from Attendance at School Regulation. These laws say that, “A child required to attend school cannot be employed during school hours. After directing an inquiry into the matter, the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor may excuse a child from attendance for various motives, including if he/she has obtained a secondary school graduation diploma or has completed a course of equivalent standing.”

Parents and guardians who neglect or refuse to cause a young person to attend school can be charged and made to attend court. This does not apply if the young person is 16 or over and has withdrawn from parental control (ie left home). Thinking of skipping school to work?  You need to know that if you are under age 16 and you skip school regularly YOU can be charged with an offence and brought to court.  And your employer can also be charged if they employ you during work hours when you are under age 16. These laws have actually been changed to make the magic age 18, however, they have not yet been “proclaimed” by the government and thus the old rule of age 16 still stands. 

So, our advice: go to school during the day and work in the evenings and on the weekends!


Marcel cannot be employed at a bar serving alcohol, as he is under 18. The Liquor Licence Act and Licence to Sell Liquor Regulation states that people under age 18 cannot be employed to sell or serve liquor on licensed premises. Note, however, that with few exceptions young people are not legally allowed to consume alcohol until they are age 19. So they can serve it when they are 18 but not drink it. Weird?

For the keeners who want to read more,

Ontario Ministry of Labour website:

Feeling even more keen, check out the Education Act (especially sections 21(1), (2), 24, 30(3)

Blog post written by volunteer PLE Team Member Julia Dmitrieva and JFCY staff lawyer, with help from JFCY law student Jesse Gutman. 

Julia and fellow PLE Team Member at the JFCY office…not during school hours!