Government warns employers against child labour
GOVERNMENT has again warned employers not to engage persons under the age of 18 years to work in their establishments.
The warning this time has come from state minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Dr Norman Dunn, who pointed out that Section 34 of the Childcare and Protection Act (CCPA) criminalises child labour.
Under the Act, a fine not exceeding $500,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both, can be levelled on persons who act contrary to the conditions stated in the CCPA.
Speaking with JIS News recently, Dunn said Jamaica is committed to the elimination of all forms of child labour.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity; work that is harmful to physical and mental development; socially or morally dangerous; and interferes with a child’s schooling.
Meanwhile, child work is the participation in work that does not affect his or her health and education as well as depriving them of the chance to enjoy their rights and is generally regarded as something positive that contributes to the child’s development.
Child work also equips children with skills that help them to be productive members of society and mould them to be responsible citizens. However, if such work deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their schooling by denying them of the opportunity to attend school, then it is child labour.
Dunn pointed out that child work cannot include working/begging on the street, working in massage parlours, working as exotic dancers or involvement in tobacco, drugs, gun trade and lottery scamming.
“Child labour puts the participants at risk, and when we speak about the worst forms of child labour, it is important for the conversation to be heard right across Jamaica,” he said.
According to the ILO, the worst forms of child labour involve children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets.
“There are about 54 articles that deal with various aspects of a child’s life, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security is ensuring that employers and employees are sensitised about the various charters that the country is signatory to. The ministry is also ensuring that Jamaica adheres to the tenets of these agreements with the ILO,” Dunn said.
The Government of Jamaica has ratified ILO Convention C138 in respect of the minimum age for work done by children and the ILO Convention C182 on the worst forms of child labour.