Children can now work in family enterprises

New laws to impose stiff punishments and allows child labour with exceptions

GN Bureau | May 13, 2015


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The union cabinet on Wednesday gave approval to amendments to child labour (prohibition and regulation) amendment Bill, 2012. The bill proposes to amend the child labour (prohibition and regulation) Act, 1986. It seeks a complete ban on child labour up to 14 years, with a condition that they are allowed to work in their family enterprises, which is other than any hazardous occupations, after their school hours or during vacations.

The child is also allowed to work as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, and television serials or sports activities except circus.

The cabinet has approved the amendment considering that total prohibition on the employment of child would be difficult because of country’s social fabric and socio-economic conditions.

The amendment proposes stricter punishment for employers for violation of the Act. In case of first offence of employing any child or adolescent in contravention of the Act, penalty would be imprisonment for a term not less than six months but which may extend to two years or with fine not less than Rs 20,000, which may be extended to Rs 50,000 or with both.

Earlier the imprisonment was not less than three months, which may be extended to one year, or with fine not less than Rs 10,000, which may be extended to Rs 20,000 or with both.

In case of subsequent offences, the minimum imprisonment would be one year which may extend to three years.

However, for parents, there would be no punishment in case of a first offence and in case of a subsequent offence, the penalty would be a fine which may extend to Rs 10,000.

The original child labour law completely banned employment of children below 14 years in only 18 hazardous industries. But the UPA government in 2012 extended the ban to all industries. It also introduced a new category of adolescents of 14 to 18 years, who were banned from hazardous industries but allowed to work in other sectors.  Child labour (prohibition and regulation) bill, 2012, recommended complete ban on child labour until the child finishes elementary education.

The child right activists, however, have condemned the act and have asked for the complete ban on child labour. They say the amendments will violate the right to education Act and will push millions of children to exploitative employment.

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