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Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados


ILO Conventions Framework

2.1 Background

This Chapter briefly describes the requirements of ILO Conventions No. 138 and No. 182 and their related Recommendations, and examines their legal implications for Barbados.

The ILO Conventions No. 138 and No.182 seek to protect children from work that is detrimental to their mental, physical, social, moral, and educational development. ILO Convention No. 138 was adopted in 1973, 26 years earlier than the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182. It requires member States to establish a general minimum age for admission to employment or work. It replaces and consolidates a number of Conventions dating from 1919 on the minimum age for admission to employment in various sectors and workplaces. In the words of its Preamble, “the time has come to establish a general instrument on the subject, which would gradually replace the existing ones applicable to limited economic sectors, with a view to achieving the total abolition of child labour”.

ILO Convention No. 182 seeks to complement and enhance ILO Convention No. 138 by addressing the need for the immediate prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a priority for national and international action. Unlike ILO Convention No. 138, it addresses concerns that are wider than labour market issues; and includes all economic activities of children whether traditionally classified within the labour market context or not. It also has both a national and international focus in its scope and implementation. Thus, it includes activities such as trafficking in children and commercial sex activities.


Definition of Child Labour

It is important to stress that these Conventions do not prohibit all forms of work by children. Indeed, the social and moral development of children requires that the value of work be instilled at a reasonable age. Such work must however be compatible with the welfare of the child and a distinction must be made between legitimate child work and prohibited child labour.

Child labour is work carried out to the manifest detriment and endangerment of the child, in violation of the rights of the child, international law as defined in the ILO Conventions and national law of the particular country, in this case, Barbados. The ILO Publication entitled “Action Against Child Labour” describes it as “both paid and unpaid work and activities that are mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. It is work that deprives them of opportunities for schooling or that requires them to assume the multiple burdens of schooling and work at home and in other workplaces; and work that enslaves them and separates them from their family.”


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