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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
Open this folder and view contents2. Towards improved legislation
close this folder3. Improving the knowledge base on child labour
View the documentINTRODUCTION
Open this folder and view contents3.2 BASIC RESULTS
View the documentHousehold-based surveys
View the documentSurveys of employers (establishments or enterprises)
View the documentSurveys of street children
Open this folder and view contents3.4 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INTERVIEWING CHILDREN
View the document3.5 FURTHER RESEARCH
View the documentAppendix 3.1 List of detailed variables in child labour surveys
View the documentBibliography on child labour surveys, statistics and related matters
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

Surveys of employers (establishments or enterprises)


A survey of establishments or enterprises to study child labour can cover only a small part of all child workers, i.e. only those children who are employed for wages. According to ILO-IPEC experimental surveys carried out in Ghana, India, Indonesia and Senegal, the proportion of employed children among total child workers was found to be around 10 per cent. Thus, a survey of employers or establishments can give statistical information about only a small segment of child workers to supplement the results obtained through the household approach. However, these child workers might form the most vulnerable section of all working children; some of them may be exposed to danger, maltreatment by employers, underpayment and environmentally bad working conditions. Such facts may not, however, be revealed through the survey of establishments as most employers will not divulge such information. (This information can be more readily obtained from the child employees themselves who are covered by the household survey.) Nevertheless, a survey of establishments employing child labour may be undertaken as a supplementary effort to find out more about the employers who have recourse to it.

Practical difficulties and operational procedures

The experimental studies revealed many practical difficulties in conducting the survey of establishments. The most important was the difficulty in identifying the establishments that employ child labour. Most developing countries do not have an updated or exhaustive national list or directory of employers. The task of preparing such a list and identifying those employing children in the ultimate areal unit is time-consuming and requires considerable resources, both human and financial. Also, many establishment owners try to hide the fact that they actually engage children, and even if they admit to it, they may provide only partial information. The alternative is to survey the establishments which employ the children belonging to the sample households.

In spite of the problems that may arise, a survey of employers should be attempted. The following alternative operational procedures, which can be modified according to national requirements and circumstances, may be considered:

• constructing a list/directory of employers using a child workforce based on the responses provided by the children and their parents during a household-based child labour survey (this approach is strongly recommended);

• preparing, through local inquiries, a frame of enterprises employing child labour in the areas known to have a concentration of such units. For each unit, some broad information relating to the type of productive activity and the scale of operation (in terms of employment) may be ascertained;

• selecting a sample of enterprises engaged in different activities in which children are known or suspected to be working (if the total number of enterprises in the frame is small, all of them may be surveyed); and

• collecting the required information by interviewing all owners or operators of enterprises (this amounts to a census which could be prohibitive in terms of resources and time required to complete the survey operations).

The main difficulty in applying the above operational procedures is the preparation of a proper framework. An alternative could be to list all the enterprises along with the listing of households in the selected areal units, and elicit information as to whether or not they employ child labour. All the enterprises/establishments (employing any child labour) in each geographical unit in the sample for the household survey can be taken up. Such a scheme might also permit estimates of total child workers employed in enterprises. But it may call for a large number of ultimate areal units in the sample to obtain an adequate number of sample enterprises for the survey. Therefore, the strategy may be formulated according to the national circumstances of a country.

The three possible strategies are:

• as undertaken in the experimental surveys, a verification of the establishments in which the child workers identified during the household survey are reported to be employed;

• a survey of all the establishments (employing child labour) located in the ultimate areal units in the sample for the household survey; and

• a survey of establishments selected purposely from a list (prepared through local inquiries) of enterprises employing child workers.

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