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Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados

Putting together these two analyses—net economic benefits and public sector costs—the study demonstrated that a protracted period, approximately fifteen years, of net costs is followed by an even longer period of still larger net benefits. Indeed, the costs are complete after 20 years, but the benefits continue for as many as 40 years past that point. The study advocates that the child labour elimination programme be placed on the table in discussions over debt relief and development assistance.

    • 4.2

      Legal Framework

      • 4.2.1

        Minimum Age for Employment

As noted earlier, ILO Convention No. 138 requires member States to determine a general minimum age for admission to all types of employment. 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.

Barbados, after consultation with the social partners, has determined a minimum age for admission to employment or work at age 16, which is the compulsory age for the completion of schooling in Barbados. Barbados is to be commended for using the optimal age and not availing itself of the special dispensation of a lower minimum age offered to developing countries. The establishment by Barbados of a minimum age of 16 years for admission to employment or work is a good practice that other Caribbean countries should strive to achieve in the shortest possible timeframe.

However, it should be noted that Barbados’ minimum age does not apply to all sectors of the economy as required by the Convention. It is restricted to employment in industrial undertakings and ships. Industrial undertakings are defined to include not only factories but also mines, construction, public utilities, and port: (Employment [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act Chapter 346 Sections 10 and 11). The industrial sector accounts for about 20% of employed labour. Therefore the general minimum age of 16 appears to be very restrictive.

It is recommended that to be fully compliant with ILO Convention No. 138


Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) general principle, the minimum age for should be 16 years of age.

Act needs to be amended to provide that as a admission to employment in all undertakings

In addition, the Occupational Training Act enacted 1st October 1979 sets the minimum age for persons to enter into contracts of apprenticeship or training in any occupation at 16 years. However Section 14(2) provides that a minor may not enter into a contract of apprenticeship or training except he/she first obtains the consent of his/her parent or guardian or, if he/she has no parent or guardian the consent of the Chief Labour Officer. All apprentices under the age of 18 years must have a medical certificate of fitness to be employed in the occupation in which he/she seeks apprenticeship or training.


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