Free from Child Labour makes up the second principle of slavefreetrade’s ‘10 Principles for Decent Work. The International Labour Organization (ILO)defines Child Labour as work that is hazardous to children’s health, safety or morals, work that interferes with compulsory education or for which they are simply too young (ILO, 2018, Page 2). This definition accounts for two key elements surrounding Child Labour: an individual's age and, the type of working conditions. The Minimum Age Convention, 1973, (No. 138), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) were published by the ILO as fundamental conventions that aim to define Child Labour and determine legal obligations against its practices.
The minimum working age was established here as 15 years old (ILO, 1973, no. 138, Art 2(3)) but reduced to a minimum of 14 in developing areas if the reasons for doing so can be proven (ILO, 1973, no.138, Art 2(4-5)).
To stop Child Labour practices, it is important that the minimum school-leaving age and the minimum age for full-time work are the same.
To stop Child Labour practices, it is important that the minimum school-leaving age and the minimum age for full-time work are the same (ILO, 2016, Page 2). The same Convention prohibits any work that could jeopardise the health, safety, or morals of a young person (ILO, 1973, no.138, Art 3(1-2preventing anyone under the age of 18 from engaging in hazardous work. Theprohibition of such practices aims to ensure that all children are protectedfrom economic and social exploitation (OHCHR, 1966, Art 10(3)).
On August 4th 2020, Convention 182 achieved universal ratification by187 of its Member States, making it a historical first as the quickest convention to achieve this title. The response received from the international community to Convention 182 has not only been an important achievement for decent work human rights efforts but has also proven a universal dedication to ending practices of the worst forms of child labour.
As arguably one of the most difficult forms of slave labour to eliminate, Child Labour continues to exist across many supply chains. According to a new report by the ILO and UNICEF, the number of children in Child Labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19 (ILO and UNICEF, 2021, Page 8).
Many families living in poverty rely on their children working as an essential source of household income support. In these cases, strict state bans on Child Labour practices can have devastating consequences for some of the world's most vulnerable individuals, resulting in adults and children undertaking dangerous unregulated jobs instead. To avoid this, smart and considerate implementation of regulations must be considered. Successful long-term solutions are possible through sustained economic growth, social progress, poverty alleviation and universal education.
International Labour Organization (ILO). Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.182)
International Labour Organization (ILO) and United Nations International Children's EmergencyFund (UNICEF), Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, Trends and The Road Forward, 2021.
International Labour Organization (ILO) Elimination and Preventing Child Labour, 2016.
International Labour Organization (ILO). ILO Convention No. 138 At A Glance, 2018.
International Labour Organization (ILO). Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (no. 138).
International Labour Organization (ILO). Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999(no.138).
The Office ofthe High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). International Covenant ofEconomic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966.