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close this bookAction Against Child Labour (ILO; 2000; 356 pages)
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contents1. National policies and programmes
close this folder2. Towards improved legislation
View the documentINTRODUCTION
View the document2.1 LEGISLATION AND THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
View the document2.2 SOURCES OF LAW ON CHILD LABOUR
close this folder2.3 INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS AND NATIONAL LEGISLATION
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentNational policy
View the documentCoverage of the law (scope of application)
View the documentGeneral minimum age for admission to employment or work
View the documentMinimum age for light work
View the documentMinimum age for hazardous work
View the documentConditions of employment
View the documentForced labour
View the documentEnforcement
View the document2.4 NEW INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS ON THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOUR
View the document2.5 OTHER INTERNATIONAL TREATIES
View the document2.6 INITIATIVES TO IMPROVE CHILD LABOUR LEGISLATION
View the document2.7 LESSONS LEARNED
View the documentChecklist 2.1 General principles
View the documentChecklist 2.2 Improving national legislation
View the documentChecklist 2.3 Legislation on bonded labour
View the documentChecklist 2.4 Involving employers' and workers' organizations, and others
View the documentAppendix 2.1 ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour (as at 31 July 1999)
View the documentAppendix 2.2 Minimum ages in ILO Conventions
View the documentAppendix 2.3 Ratification of ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour (as at 31 August 1999)
View the documentAppendix 2.4 Chart of ratifications of ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour by country (as at 31 August 1999:
View the documentAppendix 2.5 Excerpts from selected ILO standards on child labour
Open this folder and view contents3. Improving the knowledge base on child labour
Open this folder and view contents4. Alternatives to child labour
Open this folder and view contents5. Strategies to address child slavery
Open this folder and view contents6. Strategies for employers and their organizations
Open this folder and view contents7. Trade unions against child labour
Open this folder and view contents8. Awareness-raising
Open this folder and view contents9. Action by community groups and NGOs
Open this folder and view contents10. Resources on child labour
View the documentOther ILO publications
View the documentBack Cover
 

General minimum age for admission to employment or work

Convention No. 138 and Recommendation No. 146

A minimum age for admission to employment or work is to be set. It must not be less than the age of completion of compulsory education and, in any case, not less than 15 years. The general minimum age is to be determined at the time of ratification of the Convention. It could be raised later, but not lowered (Article 2).

Countries are to pursue national policies to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons.

Recommendation No. 146 provides that the minimum age should be fixed at the same level for all sectors of economic activity and the objective should be to raise progressively to 16 years the minimum age for employment or work.

For countries whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed, the minimum age can be set initially at 14 years. Employers' and workers' organizations must be consulted to fix the age for admission to employment at age 14. Countries which use this provision have to continue to report to the ILO on whether the reason for setting the lower age continues to exist.

Social policy Conventions

Two social policy Conventions10 require that the school-leaving age and the minimum age for employment be prescribed. Although the ages are not specified in these Conventions, they provide that the employment of school-age children during school hours should be prohibited where educational facilities are available. The underlying principle is that the employment of children must not deprive them of the possibility of receiving an education.

10 The Social Policy (Non-Metropolitan Territories) Convention, 1947 (No. 82) and the Social Policy (Basic Aims and Standards) Convention, 1962 (No. 117).

Problems in national legislation

National legislation often falls short of providing complete coverage by either excluding or omitting persons working otherwise than under a contract of employment, excluding categories of work and excluding branches of economic activity. Many countries have not established a single minimum age for any employment or work. Commonly excluded categories are agriculture, family undertakings and domestic service. Other excluded categories include enterprises with fewer than a specified number of workers, apprentices, self-employed workers, homeworkers and temporary or casual workers.

Many countries, however, do conform to the spirit of Convention No. 138 concerning a minimum age. Some 45 countries have set the minimum age for admission to employment or work at 15, and another 37 at 14. In 23 countries the basic minimum age is 16. At least 122 countries have legislation prohibiting work for children below the age of 14, at least in some sectors.11

11 See Appendix 2.2 for the ages set by countries that have ratified Convention No. 138. See also ILO: Child labour: Targeting the intolerable, op. cit., table 4, pp. 39-46, for information on minimum age by regions of the world.

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