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Review of Child Labour Laws of Barbados

Executive Summary

Status of Convention

Barbados has ratified both ILO Conventions No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. An obligation of ratification is that the Government of Barbados must ensure that its laws comply fully with the requirements of the Convention and that all measures are in place for the implementation of the Convention.


An important requirement of ILO Convention No. 138 is for members to develop a policy for the elimination and prevention of child labour. Unfortunately, Barbados has not yet developed a comprehensive policy framework to address the elimination of child labour. Fortunately, Barbados has sound national policies in areas connected with child labour, such as education, childcare protection, welfare, social security, labour administration and other social development, but there is no explicit policy reference to child labour. In addition, the Government and social partners in their Social Protocol V have resolved to redouble their efforts to combat child labour and the worst forms of child labour and to assist in efforts to reintegrate such exploited children into the mainstream of our society. There is also in place a policy that prohibits the importation of any item for sale in Barbados, where there is reasonable ground for belief that child labour has formed any part of the process of manufacture or production.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has initiated action to remedy the policy deficiency and has recently established an Inter-Ministerial Committee on child labour whose task is to make recommendations for a policy on child labour. The Government may wish to consider whether the procedure for the establishment and the composition of this Committee should take cognizance of the fact that child labour transcends the policy limits of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. It involves not only the Ministry of Labour and Social Security but also the Ministries with responsibilities for Education, Health, Social Services, Human Development, Family Services, Justice and Police, Attorney General, Youth Affairs, Immigration, Agriculture, Tourism and Statistics. It also involves the trade union movement, employers’ organizations and non-governmental organizations. A policy on child labour must be placed in the context of national, social and economic development policies that address the larger issues of poverty, education, family life and youth development.

It is also important that the national policy on child labour be formulated in a coherent and coordinated manner. This will ensure that all aspects of child labour, including legislation, education, labour market policies, social security, health, welfare and social development are properly addressed and coordinated. In this connection, child labour policy must provide the framework within which all institutions approach their individual


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