Cabinet approves changes to child labour laws

Children can work in family business

Cabinet approves changes to child labour laws

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill which prohibits employment of children below 14 years.

However, employment within the family and family enterprises, entertainment industries like film and television was exempted, provided that it does not hamper their education and the work does not fall in the category of hazardous occupation.

The legislation connects the prohibitions with the Right to Free Education Act which ensures compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years.

Earlier, children below 14 were prohibited to be employed only in hazardous occupations.
The amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, will enable children to work after school hours or during vacation. 

If a child works as an artiste in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus, the work should not affect the school education of the child.

“In a large number of families, children help their parents in their occupations like agriculture and artisanship and while helping the parents, children also learn the basics of the occupation,” said the government in a release.

A new definition of adolescent has been introduced in the law and employment of adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) has been prohibited in hazardous occupations and processes.
Stricter punishments for employers for violation of the law have been introduced. 

In case of first offence, not less than six months imprisonment, which may be extended to two years, or with a fine not less than Rs 20,000 will be imposed. The penalty may extend to Rs 50,000.

Earlier, the punishment was three months to one year imprisonment or with fine from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 or with both.

In case of a second or subsequent offence, the minimum imprisonment would be one year which may extend to three years.

The offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the law by an employer has been made cognisable. There will be no punishment for parents or guardians in case of a first offence. But in case of a second and subsequent offence, the penalty would be a fine which may extend to Rs 10,000.

A Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund would be constituted under the act to carry out rehabilitation activities.

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