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Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados

The employer is required to lodge for registration with the Director of Training the contract of apprenticeship and the medical certificate of fitness. Overtime work of apprentices under 18 years is prohibited.

These provisions appear to be consistent with the requirements of the ILO Conventions on child labour.

4.2.2 Light Work

It should be noted here that ILO Convention No. 138 makes provision for a lower 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 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 activities, number of hours and other conditions in which such work may be permitted must be determined by the competent authority.

The Recruiting of Workers’ Act Chapter 354 enacted in 1938 provides in Section 5 that as a general principle that persons under the age of sixteen years shall not be recruited. This same section provides that the Minister of Labour and Social Security may by regulations permit persons under that age but above the age of 14 years to be recruited with the consent of their parents or guardians for employment upon light work subject to such conditions as he/she may prescribe.

This Act also provides additional safeguards. The recruited workers must be brought before a magistrate and be medically examined.

However, the scope of the Recruiting of Workers’ Act appears to be somewhat ambiguous. One Labour Officer explained that it relates to recruitment for overseas employment. This view is supported by the chapeau of the Act, which states that it is an Act to carry out certain Conventions of 1936 relating to recruiting of workers. However the term worker is defined to mean “a person who is intended to be employed in work of any kind, whether manual or clerical, and whether within or without the Island”.

Although work is permitted in the non-industrial sector for persons under sixteen (16) years, there are substantial restrictions regulating such employment. Such employment is prohibited during school hours (Section 14 (1) of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act), which are ordinarily between 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday during the school terms. In addition, they cannot be employed in night work, that is, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (Section 13 of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act).


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