Child Labour Act


Naveen Kumar. K
Naveen Kumar. M.P
Management Students
A.M.C. Engineering College

Fredrikke Palmer, Women's Journal (1916)

"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace."
                                                                                                      -----    Kofi Annan


Child labour refers to that who are in the age group below 14 yrs and who work for themselves or for their family for an income and who contribute a significant share to the labour force of India.

The first general laws against child labour, the Factory Acts, were passed in Britain in the first half of the 19th century. Children younger than nine were not allowed to work and the work day of youth under the age of 18 was limited to twelve hours.

This minimum age depends on the country and the type of work involved. States ratifying the Minimum Age Convention adopted by the International Labour Organization in 1973, have adopted minimum ages varying from 14 to 16. Child labor laws in the United States set the minimum age to work in an establishment without restrictions and without parents' consent at age 16.

A significant portion child labors work in organized sector which is governed by all social security legislations and government appointed inspectors like Inspector of Factories PF Inspector, ESI Inspector, and their higher ups.

According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 158 million children aged 5 to 14 in child labour worldwide, excluding child domestic labour. The United Nations and the International Labour Organization consider child labour exploitative, with the UN stipulating, in article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery.

Reasons for child labour :
  • Children come to work or parents send them to work due to poverty.
  • Due to lack of education, and lack of knowledge.
  • Due to lack of awareness about the side effects of child labour.
  • Because of over population.
  • Due to government authority's carelessness.
  • Government's unfair attitude towards poor, and backward classes.
  • Profits earning mentality of the corporates, and organized sector people.
  • Dominance of the powerful people, and higher authorities over the poor people, forcing them to send their children to work.
  • Illegal profit earning behaviour of the localites and other people.
  • Poor families often rely on the labours of their children in order to survive. Sometimes it is their only income.
  • Inefficient government machinery and its legislations.
  • The governmental personnel who are responsible in administering the provisions of the legislations have a neglecting attitude as they are not given adequate protection when they discharge their duties.
  • Parents of the children who send them to work may be illiterates who are not much aware of the consequences of child labour to the child, to their family and in total to the society.

Recent child labour incident

Young girl working on a loom in At Benhaddou, Morocco in May 2008.

BBC recently reported on Primark using child labour in the manufacture of clothing. In particular a 4.00 hand embroidered shirt was the starting point of a documentary produced by BBC's Panorama (TV series) programme. The programme asks consumers to ask themselves, "Why am I only paying 4 for a hand embroidered top? This item looks handmade. Who made it for such little cost?", in addition to exposing the violent side of the child labour industry in countries where child exploitation is prevalent. As a result of the programme, Primark took action and sacked the relevant companies, and reviewed their supplier procedures.

Strategies to be adopted:

(To overcome child labour)

  • People from the organized sector should not entertain child labour.
  • They may reduce the working hours of the children and offer them free education and free food.
  • "To make profits is business, to do profiteering is not business. It is exploitation".
  • When employers pay their employees, they should have at least a minimum consideration on The Payment of Wages Act, The Minimum Wages Act, The Equal Remuneration Act, because if they are paid with a minimum salary they may not be in a position to send their children for work, by which, they may play a vital role in the eradication of child labour.
  • Large corporate houses along with the NGO's and the government must help in creating awareness among the parents about the evils of child labour.
  • The children should be made aware of this rights and privileges and when forced to work, the avenues to get rid of it.
  • The children should be made aware of this rights and privileges and when forced to work, the avenues to get rid of it.
  • If they are forced to employ children, due to competition, or any other business situation, they should take care of the children by offering them jobs which may not be health hazardous, and easy to be performed so that their health does not get affected.
  • Performance based incentives and increments may be adopted as a HR policy, so that the efficiency increases and the organizations may not seek to adopt child labour to increase their profits.
  • The government should provide safety to the staff who implements the legislations against child labour by taking care of their family and dependents, if anything untoward happens to him/her.
  • Inspector of factories should be given more powers of closing down the place of working, if they find that the establishment works against the provisions of the child labour legislations.
  • Punishments against erring organization should be made severe so that they may not be repeated in future. For example companies in Tirupur which were guilty of utilizing child labour have been asked to pay RS 10,000 as a fine. This amount when compared to the profits they earn through child labour is very meager and therefore this may not prevent them from using child labour.

Remedial measures :

  • Child labour laws have been adopted in all civilized countries to control child labour .
  • It is prohibited their employment at night in one or more kinds of work and without medical certificates of age and fitness.
  • Prohibition of employment of young children (sec 67).
  • Non-adult workers to carry tokens stating fitness, certified by doctors.
  • Rules regarding child labour as been covered in Factories act and Mines act etc.,
  • The children act 1938, 1960, 1978, and 1986 prohibits the employment of child workers who have not completed 14 years.
  • There are also two general acts on the subject.the children (pledging of labour) act (act 11 of 1933) prohibits the making of agreement to pledge the labour of children and employment of children whose labour has been pledged.

Awareness creation :

  • The government and the NGO's should take the responsibility of appointing/utilizing professionally trained social workers to create awareness/ through social casework and social group work. 
  • Movies, which are a tool of mass media communication, should be utilized efficiently; this can be done by compulsorily screening the documentary films before the screening of main movie.
  • All Medias like televisions, radios, hoardings, slide shows, documentary films should be utilized to create awareness among the general public and the parents about the evils of child labour.


Child labour is the unhumanitarian attitude by the employers towards the children and the society. Child labour is a threat to society and well being of the children. Child labour adversely affects the growth of the healthy society. Child labour is an evil to the society and it should be curved down. Government has taken a various remedial measures to eradicate child labour in the society and also the NGO's are working upon the eradication of the same. Proper education to the people and parents would definitely reduce this bad practices.


MERCANTILE LAW -  M.C. Shukla, (2004),Mumbai,

BUSINESS LAW FOR MANAGERS -   P. Saravanavel &S. Sumathi, (2007)   Himalaya publications, Mumbai

Child labour act - Retrieved from:

Child labour photos Retrieved from :

Issues relating to child labour S. Prabakar , Retrieved from : e+Search&meta=&rlz=1R2SHCN_enIN367&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

Child labour protection act - Retrieved from:


Naveen Kumar. K
Naveen Kumar. M.P
Management Students
A.M.C. Engineering College

Source: E-mail June 3, 2010




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