Convention No. 138 and Recommendation No. 146
Convention No. 138 refers to conditions of work for children who are of the legal age to work or who are allowed to work under particular exceptions:
• Light work - the number of hours and the conditions in which light work may be done are to be set by the competent authority (Article 7).
• Artistic performances - permits that allow children to work in artistic performances must limit the number of hours of work and prescribe the conditions in which the work is allowed (Article 8).
Recommendation No. 146 provides further guidance on conditions of employment:
• Measures should be taken to ensure that the working conditions for those under the age of 18 are maintained at a satisfactory standard and supervised closely.
• Measures should also be taken to safeguard and supervise the conditions in which vocational orientation and training are provided in enterprises, training institutions and schools for vocational or technical education, and standards should be formulated for the protection and development of the young persons involved.
In setting standards for conditions of work and training, including the conditions applicable to light work, the following should be given special attention:
• fair remuneration and its protection, bearing in mind the principle of equal pay for equal work;
• strict limits on daily and weekly hours of work, and the prohibition of overtime to allow enough time for education and training, including the time needed for homework, and time for rest during the day and for leisure activities;
• a minimum consecutive period of 12 hours of night rest, without exception, unless for a genuine emergency, and weekly rest days;
• an annual holiday with pay of at least four weeks and, in no case, shorter than that granted to adults;
• coverage by social security schemes, including employment injury, medical care and sickness benefit schemes, whatever the conditions of employment or work; and
• maintenance of satisfactory standards of safety and health and appropriate instruction and supervision.
In addition, most international labour standards apply without any distinction being made as to age: they are thus applicable to children on the same basis as to adult workers.
Night work Conventions
Conventions Nos. 6 and 90 regulate the night work of young persons in industry, while Convention No. 79 covers night work of young persons in non-industrial occupations.12 Convention No. 6 prohibits the employment of young persons under 18 years of age in any industrial undertaking during the night. Night is defined as a period of at least 11 consecutive hours, including the time between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. with exceptions for those over the age of 16 in certain continuous work processes such as the manufacture of iron and steel. Recommendation No. 146 calls for a consecutive period of 12 hours of night rest.
12 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 6); Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention (Revised), 1948 (No. 90); Night Work of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Convention, 1946 (No. 79). The Governing Body of the ILO has decided that these Conventions should be revised, possibly to consolidate provisions on night work of young persons into one instrument. Such revision, however, has not yet been placed on the agenda of the International Labour Conference for action.
Convention No. 90 also prohibits the employment or work of those under age 18 during the night, but prolongs the period beyond that of Convention No. 6 - night is a period of at least 12 consecutive hours. For those under age 16, the night period must include the time between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while the competent authority is to prescribe a similar compulsory interval for those who have attained age 16 but are under age 18, within a given margin of flexibility.
Convention No. 79 provides definitions of "night" in relation to age and whether the children are subject to full-time compulsory school attendance.
Medical examination of young persons Conventions
Several Conventions place another condition on the employment of children and young persons - the requirement of medical examinations to prove fitness for employment. These Conventions apply to industry, non-industrial occupations, underground work and employment at sea.13 They call for a thorough medical examination of children and young persons under 18 years of age (21 years in the case of underground work) before they can be admitted to employment, and continued medical supervision until 18 years of age.
13 Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1944 (No. 77); Medical Examination of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations) Convention, 1946 (No. 78); Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 (No. 124); Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) Convention, 1921 (No. 16).
Box 2.16. Vigilance committees in India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan have adopted specific laws on bonded labour and call for the setting up of vigilance committees. Such committees are to be set up at the district level and comprise elected representatives of the area, representatives of the district administration, bar associations, press, recognized social services, and labour departments of federal and provincial governments.
The functions of the committees include advising the district administration on matters relating to the effective implementation of the law, helping in the rehabilitation of freed bonded labourers, monitoring application of the law, and providing bonded labourers with necessary assistance to achieve the objectives of the law. However, as pointed out by the Committee of Experts, social monitoring is needed at the local level to make the law work. In addition, the committees need to be strengthened to accomplish the objectives set out in the law.