labour laws

Child Labour Laws in a Nutshell by Sherry Christina George

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India has numerous laws when it comes to “labour” laws. The child labour laws are known to be the most crucial laws which protect and provides safety to any child who works as a labourer. In the 20th century, child labour had increased causing a numerable number of deaths as the children were directly associated in factories which were known to be hazardous in nature. Therefore, new laws were enacted and bought into existence by the Government of India. This article aims to bring out the faults as well as the reforms that the government had incorporated over the years.

Definition of Child and Child labour

  • According to the Child labour (prohibition and regulation) act of 1986, a “Child” is defined as a person is below the age of fourteen.
  • According to the International labour organisation- A child labour refers to work that deprives children under the age of 18 of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and/mental development.
  • According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child defines a child as- “A human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, a majority is attained earlier.
  • Craig Kielburger defines child labour as “Child labour is an issue of grave importance. It becomes a top priority for all the government s of the world more into the 21st century with children being exploited for their labour and denied their basic right to an education.”

Causes of Child labour in India

  • Poverty- The root cause of Child labour in India is poverty. Half of the country is below the poverty level and most of the families do not have the money to purchase even the basic necessities of life. Therefore, they send their children to work and bring money without caring about their education, safety or health.
  • Addiction- In most of the families in India, either the father or the mother is addicted to some sort of drugs which disables them to work on a regular basis for the family as it makes them sick and helpless. Therefore, these kinds of parents depend on their children to work outside and help them get food to eat.
  • Lack of education- India lacks in providing education to the youth and children at various levels. As the family grows with no education job opportunities is lessened and more of handwork seems to work fine with these families.
  • Family tradition- India is one country where we have a good number of families which has huge businesses. The family tradition has always been that the children as they grow up to join the business and help it prosper. Therefore, many children focus more on taking care of the business rather than focusing on their education. The family suggests and supports the same though the process.
  • Fundamental rights denied- As per India, children who have been given the right to education as their fundamental right are mostly denied of it. These children mostly tend to be school dropouts or most of them have not yet seen a school or even have got into any one of them.
  • Orthodox- Most of the Indian families do not believe in providing good education to the girl child. They mostly go with the notion that the girls should be good at work and more than 575 million girls have been denied education and usually are forced into early marriage.
  • Human trafficking- Be it a girl or a boy, children are mostly trafficked across the country either to be sex workers or work as a housemaid in various homes. Many of them get exploited at a very young age which may even start from the age of 9 years.
  • Begging-One of the worst scenes is watching a child beg on the streets for their own survival. Due to lack of education and excessive poverty children in many below poverty line families are send to beg either by doing various acts or simply by begging on the streets day and night. These families train their kids and send them to beg as if it were a duty.

Various Acts which deal with the Child labour in India

  • The factories act of 1948 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. Only who has attained the age of adolescent that is from (15-18) can work under certain guidelines prescribed in the act.
  • The mines act of 1952 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 18 years in any mine occupation which is most dangerous and leads to many accidents and deaths of children.
  • The right of children to free and compulsory education act, 2009- This act prescribes that every child who has aged between the ages 6-14 years must be provided with education. They should be given 25% of seats in the private schools as well as in the government schools.
  • The child labour (prohibition and regulations act) 1986 prohibits the employment of any child who is below the age of 14 years to work in any of the hazardous factories and engage themselves in any such activities.

The employment of young persons

  • SECTION 67- This section states that no child shall be allowed to work in any factory.
  • SECTION 68– A child who has attained the age of 14 years shall be required to work only if he has a certificate of fitness which would be given to him by the manager.
  • SECTION 69- A certifying surgeon on the application of a young person or his parent or guardian. The certificate has to be duly signed by the manager of the factory
  • SECTION 69(4) –Also states that a surgeon may revoke any certificate if he finds the holder is no longer eligible to work in the factory.
  • SECTION 69(5) – The surgeon may state the reasons as to why he thinks that the holder of the certificate is no longer fit.
  • SECTION 71- states the working hours for the children that is (1) – not more than 4 and a half hours a day. (2)- No working allowed during the night.
  • SECTION 71(3) – states that the provisions of section 52 shall apply to the child workers as well. The provisions describe the holidays for adult workers.

Section 13(2) of the Child labour (prohibition and regulation) act 1986

This particular section lays down certain working conditions for the children in every factory. The conditions are as follows-

  • Cleanliness of wastes and effluents.
  • Ventilation and temperatures must be set accordingly.
  • Latrines and urinals must be available.
  • Should be free from dust and fumes.
  • Enough lighting must be provided.
  • There must be fencing of machinery.
  • There must be no employment in dangerous machines.
  • There must be tools to protect the eyes.
  • No excessive weights must be given to carry or transfer.

Hazardous Occupation – Defined

According to part III of the Child labour Act of 1986, the works that are prescribed in two parts A and B are described as hazardous occupations for children.

PART-A- No child is allowed to work in places

  • Mines (underground and under water)
  • Inflammable substances and explosives
  • In automobiles and garages.
  • Works related to railway construction.
  • Cinder pricking, cleaning of Ash pits.
  • In slaughter houses.
  • Transport of passengers, goods or mails by railways.


  • Beedi making
  • Mica cutting
  • Bagging of cement
  • Shellac manufacturing
  • Weaving
  • Clothes printing
  • Clothes dying
  • Detergent manufacturing
  • Brick kilns
  • Lock making
  • Paper making
  • Saw mills
  • Potteries
  • Manufacturing processes by using toxic metal substances, asbestos
  • Ceramic industries.
  • Stone crushing
  • Stone breaking
  • Welding
  • Smelting
  • Oil expelling
  • Zari making
  • Utensils making

Therefore, this is the schedule that prohibits the children to work as a worker under any of these heads. There are about 83 of them.

The Child labour (prohibition and regulation) amendment act, 2016

  • Certain changes have been made after the amendment took place and this act was made effective on 30 July 2016.
  • The number of hazardous occupations has been reduced from 83 to just 3.
  • Adolescent age has been set as 14-18
  • Offences are made cognizable notwithstanding the provisions of the code of criminal procedure.
  • Increase in the penalty – 6 months to 2 years and from 20 thousand to 50 thousand. Previously, it was 3 months – 1 year and the fine was 10 thousand to 20 thousand.

Drawbacks of the amendments made under this act:-

  • It allows the employment of children to work and be employed in all sort of family businesses and enterprises.
  • There is no check on the execution of the amendments yet.
  • The list of hazardous employment that has been reduced from 83 to 3 will now enable children to work in the worst forms of hazardous activities which may even take their lives.
  • This act proves to be regressive as it is hugely at fault.
  • Except for the increase in the penalties the other changes do not seem to bring solutions to child labour defaults in India.


The children are the most vulnerable part of society. Therefore, the future of every country depends on the well-being of the children and also their development helps the nation progress at a greater speed. They one day would become great personalities if guided and supported properly by the means of more education and less labour work. The girls of the country must be thought to keep education as their first priority.

As Malala Yousafzai quotes “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”. Although various laws are bought into force in order to tackle the issues related to child labour in India. The government must focus more on the execution and keep a strict check on the laws that govern the labour law of our Country.

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