Ways to Take Action against Child Labour
Analysis of the situation:
Obtain information from the Ministry of Labour on the national law regulating employment of children, more specifically:
- Provisions regarding the minimum age for employment that will enable you to meet legal requirements.
- A hazardous child labour list that will enable you to revise the tasks for children above the minimum working age and reassign them to work in safe, non-hazardous conditions while securing their access to appropriate education or training.
Reliable techniques to check age include the following:
- Medical examination prior to employment.
- Multiple written documents and affidavits.
- Culturally sensitive interviews with employees and applicants who appear to be too young.
- End of compulsory schooling certificate for those above minimum age.
- School enrolment certificate for those in light work.
Guidance for governments (and social partners) on work that may be hazardous for children, and could therefore be included on a national list, is given in the ILO's Worst Forms of Child Labour Recommendation, 1999 (No. 190), Paragraph 3:
In determining the types of work referred to under Article 3(d) of the Convention [No. 182], and in identifying where they exist, consideration should be given, inter alia, to:
(a) Work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse.
(b) Work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces.
(c) Work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads.
(d) Work in an unhealthy environment which may, for example, expose children to hazardous substances, agents or processes, or to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations damaging to their health.
(e) Work under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.
Immediately stop hiring children below the relevant minimum age. This does not mean you cannot recruit workers above the minimum age into decent youth employment. But there should be a permanent ban on underage recruitment. This should be understood by all employees responsible for hiring.
Control the risks identified through a workplace risk assessment. Young employees (i.e. those of legal working age) could perform the same tasks in the same workplace if those risks are reduced or removed. Remove children from tasks and environments that are dangerous for them but not for adults (e.g. heavy loads, night work, heavy machinery)
Set an occupational safety and health policy (a written form stating the company's objectives and commitment to protect the safety and health of all workers) with full participation of workers. Allocate responsibilities, accountability and authority for safety and health activities in the workplace. Plan the provision of skills and organization of the system including resource allocation. Plan risk assessment.
Put the occupational safety and health program into action.
Measure how your occupational safety and health policy affects your business and how workers respond to it.
Review the system. Get the system ready for the next cycle.
Internal auditing: A system in which the company inspects itself. Also known as first-party auditing, it is the easiest to manage but may lack credibility.
External auditing: An external organization inspects your company's worksites or, more commonly, those of your suppliers. Their audits will be more trustworthy if this organization has a good reputation and has received full training on child labour.