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Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados

Unconditional Worst Forms of Child Labour

There are laws in Barbados which outlaw most activities involved in the worst forms of child labour. However, these laws are not characterized as child labour but as criminal offences and there are some deficiencies and gap. There is no specific offence of child trafficking, and the upper age limit for some offences under the Offences against the Persons Act and the Sexual Offences Act is below the age of 18 years. It is recommended that Barbados enact a legal regime that specifically addresses the worst forms of child labour.

Institutional Arrangements

There is the need to strengthen the monitoring of child labour in Barbados. In particular, there is the need for greater institutionalized collaboration between the Royal Barbados Police Service and the Ministry of Labour in order to enhance surveillance and detection of the worst forms of child labour. The Police Service must establish protocols and procedures to make the link between criminal economic activities involving children and child labour.

In addition, the Labour Department Act should be amended to provide for a legal duty on the part of the Chief Labour Officer to have systemic reviews of the child labour situation in Barbados.

The confidentiality and non-disclosure provisions relating to the use of information in the Juvenile Offenders Act and the Labour Department Act are too restrictive for the effective establishment of a Central Database on Child Labour and successful implementation of programmes to be developed for the elimination and prevention of child labour. There is therefore the need for appropriate amendments to these laws to allow for use of confidential information in the Central Database and by other State agencies involved in programmes for the elimination and prevention of child labour.

There is the need for greater education on the provisions of the ILO Conventions on child labour for all State agencies that are relevant to the elimination and prevention of child labour. It is important that child labour issues be mainstreamed in all agencies that have responsibility for the protection of children.

Summary conclusions

  • (i)

    There is need for a comprehensive policy framework to guide law reform on the issue of child labour;

  • (ii)

    The gaps in Barbados’ laws relating to the requirements of ILO Convention No. 138 could be remedied by a process of amendments to the Employment


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