Children and young persons who participate in entrepreneurial activities, or who have vacation or after school jobs, are not child labourers.
This was emphasised by Chief Labour Officer, Vincent Burnett, while addressing possible concerns about the differentiation between children who are working and child labour.
He indicated that when the Labour Department spoke to the issue of child labour, it was in the context of the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards, including Convention 138 Minimum Age and Convention 182 Worst Forms of Child Labour.
Using the current legislation, Mr. Burnett further explained that under the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Cap 346, a child is defined as ???a person who has not attained the age of 16 years??? while a young person is ???one who has attained the age of 16 but who has not attained the age of 18 years???.
???Child labour is essentially work that exposes children to harm or exploitation and interferes with their development; depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; causing them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to combine long hours of work with attendance at school,??? the Chief Labour Officer stressed.
Mr. Burnett also made it clear that he had no problem with suggestions which called for the introduction of more activities in schools to teach children about being involved in entrepreneurship from an earlier age.
He maintained: ???The idea is not to stifle the entrepreneurial spirit but to make sure that the laws which protect children and young persons from working in circumstances likely to cause injury to health, safety or morale, are complied with.???
In Barbados, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cap 346 addresses the concept of child labour. This Act states that children should not be involved in any industrial undertaking. This includes working in any mine, quarry or other work extracting minerals from the earth; or any undertaking in which articles are manufactured or altered.
Other examples of industrial undertakings include ship building; building or civil engineer work, including construction or demolition work; and the transportation of passengers or goods by rail or road, including the handling of goods at docks, quays, warehouses or airports.
Other legislation which protects young persons can also be found in the Safety and Health at Work Act (SHAW), Cap 356 (SHAW) and the Liquor Licenses Act, Cap 182.??In September 2014, the Barbados Statistical Service, in collaboration with the United Nations Children???s Fund, carried out a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Report to determine the instances of child labour in Barbados.
The standard used in the survey was that a child was considered to be involved in child labour activities if he or she performed at least one hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week. It revealed that a total of 2.3 per cent of children in Barbados were involved in child labour.??While this is a low percentage, Mr Burnett declared that the Labour Department intended to further reduce this figure by reviewing the labour legislation.
???Because a lot of our laws were made in the 30s and 40s, we are going through them to see now in this modern labour market that our laws are as effective and up to date as possible??? and we are looking to see with the assistance from the relevant authorities what sanctions could be put in place,??? he remarked.
Other methods suggested to reduce the instances of child labour in Barbados included the continuation of a public awareness campaign and inspections done by the department under the SHAW Act.
The Chief Labour Officer further underscored that any member of the public who suspected any situation or occurrence of child labour should contact the Labour Department at 310-1500, or any other department that dealt with the welfare of children, such as the Child Care Board or the Royal Barbados Police Force.