Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados
Government of Barbados may wish to consider whether there is need for some qualification to ensure that statistics on child labour be maintained in the manner prescribed by the Convention.
The Act creates certain offences for refusing or neglecting to provide labour inspectors with returns or information required or for furnishing false information or hinders obstructs or molests a labour inspector in the exercise of his/her powers. Such a person is liable on summary conviction to a fine of fifty dollars or to imprisonment for three months.
This penalty of a fine of fifty dollars was set in economic circumstances that are different from modern reality and needs to be reviewed. The labour inspectors are not empowered to hand down administrative sanctions such as fines or suspension of operating licenses. These are left to the courts.
The provisions relating to the worst forms of child labour are administered by a number of state agencies. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is the competent authority and has lead responsibility for enforcing legislation relating to the minimum age for employment and work and hazardous work.
In the areas of unconditional worst forms of child labour, because they are traditionally considered to be crimes, the Royal Barbados Police Service enforces them. In addition, the Child Care Board is the lead agency for prevention and protection of children. The Child Care Board while it does not focus specifically on child labour provides support to ensure that there is no need for children to seek employment. The Board administers a welfare system for children in need and manage a number of day care centers at work as well as after and before school care for students. It also plays an educational role as far as promulgating the rights of the child in society. The Board’s role potentially includes the removal and rehabilitation of children from the worst forms of child labour.
Prevention In terms of the preventive aspects of the convention, the Ministry of Education has a major role to play in ensuring that all children under age 16 attend schools. They are assisted by the Royal Barbados Police Service in the execution of their duties. In Barbados, education is a major tool in the prevention of child labour. Education is free and compulsory from the age of 5 to 16 years and attendance is strictly enforced. Section 43 of the Education Act places the duty on School Attendance Officers to ensure that the parents are complying with their duty to secure education to their children. School attendance officers shall investigate the family circumstances and assist with counselling where necessary or make referrals to other social service agencies, which could facilitate the child’s return to school.