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Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados

ILO Convention No. 138 provides that member States must determine a general minimum age for admission to employment. While the Convention permits certain exceptions, its general objective is that the minimum age should be applicable to all sectors of the economy. This age should not be lower than the compulsory age for the completion of basic education and in any case not less than 15 years. The general minimum age is to be determined at the time of ratification of the Convention.

The Convention also enjoins member States to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons. ILO Recommendation No. 146 provides that the minimum age should be fixed at the same level for all sectors of economic activity and the objective should be to raise it progressively to 16 years.

The Convention provides some flexibility for countries whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed to specify, after appropriate consultations with the social partners, a minimum age of 14 years.

2.3.4 Exception for Light Work

Article 7 of ILO Convention No. 138 allows a younger minimum age for light work. Light work may be undertaken by children two years younger than the declared minimum age for admission to general employment.

Light work is considered to be work which is “not likely to be harmful to the health or development of young persons and not such as to prejudice their attendance at school, their participation in vocational orientation or training programmes approved by the competent authority or their capacity to benefit from the instruction received.” However, the light work has to be properly regulated. The activities, number of hours and other conditions in which such work may be permitted must be determined by the competent authority, after consultation with the social partners.

ILO Recommendation No. 146 elaborates on the conditions in which light work may be permitted. It states that special attention should be given to:

  • (a)

    the provision of fair remuneration and its protection, bearing in mind the principle of equal pay for equal work;

  • (b)

    the strict limitation of the hours spent at work in a day and in a week, and the prohibition of overtime, so as to allow enough time for education and training (including the time needed for homework), for rest during the day and for leisure activities;

  • (c)

    the granting, without possibility of exception save in genuine emergency, of a minimum consecutive period of 12 hours’ night rest, and of customary weekly rest days;

  • (d)

    the granting of an annual holiday with pay of at least four weeks and, in any case, not shorter than that granted to adults;


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