Let’s talk about child labour

Written by Francesca Guy

Child labour is a widespread issue around the world. It is crucial to have laws and regulations in place to protect children from being exploited and to ensure they have access to education and a safe childhood

The Constitution provides for the rights of children, including the right to be protected from exploitation, forced labour, and hazardous work. The Children’s Act of 2005 further protects the rights of children by prohibiting child labour and setting minimum age limits for work.

According to the Children’s Act, children under the age of 15 are not allowed to work, except in certain circumstances, such as performing in cultural or artistic activities, or work that is part of a school-approved programme. Children between the ages of 15 and 18 may work, but they must be protected from hazardous work, work that is likely to harm their health or development, and work that is detrimental to their education.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) also provides protections for children in the workplace. The BCEA sets minimum standards for working conditions, such as hours of work, breaks, and overtime. It also sets minimum wages for workers, including child workers.

In addition to these national laws, there are also international laws and agreements that South Africa has ratified, such as the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. These agreements aim to protect children from being forced into work that is harmful to their health and development.

Despite these laws and regulations, child labour still exists, particularly in the informal sector and in agriculture. Children are often forced to work long hours in hazardous conditions, and many are denied access to education and a safe childhood.

It is crucial to enforce these laws and ensure that children are protected from exploitation and hazardous work. This requires a coordinated effort from government, civil society, and businesses to raise awareness about the issue, monitor workplaces for violations, and provide support to children who have been affected by child labour.

In conclusion, the laws around child labour in South Africa provide important protections for children, including minimum age limits for work, protection from hazardous work, and access to education. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that these laws are enforced and that children are protected from exploitation and harm in the workplace. By working together, we can create a better future for all children.