Child labour

Work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that: (i) is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or (ii) interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. A child is defined as a person under the age of 18. Whether or not particular forms of ‘work’ can be called ‘child labour’ depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed and the conditions under which it is performed. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries. The minimum age of work should not be less than the minimum age of completion of compulsory schooling, and, in any case, should not be less than 15 years according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age. Exceptions can occur in certain countries where economies and educational facilities are insufficiently developed, and a minimum age of 14 years applies. These countries of exception are specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in response to a special application by the country concerned and in consultation with representative organisations of employers and workers. National laws may permit the employment of persons 13 to 15 years of age in light work as long as it is not likely to be harmful to their health or development and does not prejudice their attendance at school or participation in vocational or training programmes. The minimum age for admission into work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to jeopardise the health, safety or morals of young persons shall not be less than 18 years.

Related keywords
Work-related hazards
Forced labour
Recordable work-related injury or ill health
Confirmed incident (child or forced labour or human trafficking)

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