8 things you should know before starting a part-time or summer job

Are you applying for a part-time or a summer job? Already got one? Before you start, you should know the benefits and obligations of having a job. Here are 8 things you should know before getting started:

  1. How old do I have to be to get a job?
  2. Can I work wherever I want?
  3. How much do I get paid? What's the minimum wage?
  4. Do I get breaks?
  5. Do I have to work on holidays?
  6. Do I get vacation pay?
  7. Is my workplace safe?
  8. How do I avoid getting hurt on my job?

1) How old do I have to be to get a job?

You need to be 14. If you're under 18 years old, you can't work during school hours unless the job is part of your school program. If you're unsure if there is a minimum age requirement for the place you want to work, check this out for more information.

2) Can I work wherever I want?

No. Only in places that are not dangerous like offices, stores, arenas and restaurant serving areas.

  • After turning 15 years old, you can work in factories (other than logging operations), restaurant kitchens and warehouses.
  • At 16, you can work in construction, surface mines (except for where the minerals are extracted), logging operations and mining plants.
  • Jobs like underground mining and window cleaning are only for teens 18 and older.

3) How much do I get paid? What is the minimum wage?


You may get a student minimum wage which is $10.30. This applies if you are under 18 and work up to 28 hours a week when school is in session or work during a school holiday. There are also specific wages for liquor servers, hunting and fishing guides, home-workers and farmers.

4) Do I get breaks?

Eating Break

You should get a 30-minute eating break for every five hours that you work in a row. If you and your boss agree, you can take the break in two parts.

"Coffee" Breaks

Your employer doesn't have to give you "coffee" breaks.

Both eating and "coffee" breaks can be paid and/or unpaid depending on your employer. Ask your boss before you start your job.

5) Do I have to work on holidays?

You have to work on holidays if you're working at:

  • hotel, motel and tourist resorts
  • restaurants and taverns
  • hospitals or nursing homes
  • workplaces that need continuous support such as alarm companies

If you are not doing any of those jobs, you may take the following nine public holidays off and still get paid:

  • New Year's Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day and December 26 (Boxing Day).

But you can always voluntarily agree to work on those days.

6) Do I get vacation pay?

You have the right to get at least two weeks of vacation with pay after each 12 months of being at your job, even part-time. Your vacation pay will be at least 4 per cent of the total wages you earned. The 4 per cent doesn't include wages earned from vacation pay, tips and gifts. It is usually paid when you take your vacation or it could be added to your regular paycheque.

7) Is my workplace safe?

Your boss has to make sure your workplace is safe. You also have a number of rights and responsibilities including:

  • Right to take part in health and safety training and safety programs
  • Right to know about possible dangers you may be face at your job
  • Right to say no to unsafe work and the responsibility to follow safety rules

A workplace accident could cause an injury or worse. Every day in Ontario, an average of nearly 50 young workers are injured or killed on the job. Think of it. That's 2 teens every hour and it's often because of what they didn't know.

If you believe that you're working in a dangerous place or if you would like information about your health and safety at work, call toll free at 1-877-202-0008. You can also check out the Young Workers page dedicated to work safety for youth in Ontario.

8) How do I avoid getting hurt on my job?

Protect yourself at work by following these 7 tips for staying safe:

  1. Follow the rules and get the training to know what to do in an emergency.
  2. Be supervised and make sure that someone is watching over you.
  3. Wear the safety gear and use them properly.
  4. Identify risks or hazards and report unsafe work practices to your supervisor.
  5. If you're hurt, no matter how minor, tell your boss and let your family know.
  6. Say no if a task is too much for you.
  7. Never assume. If you don't know, ask!

Check this out to learn more about your rights and obligations and potential hazards, health and injuries at work.

Have something else to add? Did somebody give you a great tip that helped you get a job? We want to hear from you. E-mail us and we'll add your tip.

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