Child Labour: Exploring the Causes, Solutions with various Child labour laws and Case laws
The term “child labour” has been defined as work that deprives children of their youth, potential, and dignity, and is destructive to their physical and mental development. 
The International Labour Organization (ILO) established the World Day against Child Labor in 2002 to draw attention to the global scope of child labor and the actions and efforts required to abolish it.
Every year on June 12, the World Day brings together governments, employers’ and workers’ groups, civil society, and millions of people from all over the world to highlight the suffering of child laborers and what can be done to aid them.
Causes of Child Labour in India
Children are viewed as family helpers. It is nearly impossible to govern child labor in poor nations since youngsters must not only sustain themselves but also their family and provide for them. Due to the high rates of unemployment and underemployment caused by poverty, parents are forced to send their kids to work for poor pay.
2. Bonded Labour
Children frequently work long hours in the sun without access to food or water. These kids are rarely compensated and contributes even more to the widespread rise in child labor.
3. Domestic Help
Young children frequently work for educated households, and despite the fact that many laws prohibit the employment of children, these households often accept young people so that they can take care of their homes and their kids.
4. Child sex workers
Girls who have reached puberty are frequently coerced into prostitution in exchange for promises of lucrative careers.
5. Forced Begging
Families who are unable to support themselves compel their children to beg on the streets in deplorable conditions. They have their children wounded in order to obtain more money from the public.
Solutions to overcome Child Labour
1. Education and Awareness
- Promote and ensure access to quality education for all children, which can reduce the demand for child labor.
- Raise awareness among parents, communities, and employers about the negative impacts of child labor on children’s physical and mental development.
2. Poverty Alleviation
- Implement poverty reduction programs that target vulnerable families and provide them with financial support, job training, and access to resources.
- Increase access to credit and microfinance for parents to start income-generating activities, so they don’t need to rely on child labor.
3. Enforcement of Laws
- Strengthen and enforce existing laws that prohibit child labor, and ensure that penalties for violations are sufficient to act as a deterrent.
- Improve labor inspections to identify and address workplaces employing child labor.
4. Social Services
- Provide social safety nets, such as cash transfer programs, to support families in need and discourage them from sending children to work.
- Offer healthcare services and nutrition programs to improve the overall well-being of families.
5. Skills Development
- Offer vocational training and skill development programs for parents and older children to enhance their employability and income potential.
6. Community Engagement
- Involve local communities, NGOs, and other stakeholders in identifying and addressing the root causes of child labor in specific contexts.
7. Child Protection Services
- Strengthen child protection services to rescue and rehabilitate children engaged in hazardous labor.
- Establishing shelters for children where they can receive education, counseling, and support.
Child Labour Laws in India
Millions of people between the ages of 6 and 14 are unemployed and do not attend school. It serves to clarify why 50% of children in our nation work as child labour. In India, numerous laws have been passed to regulate child labor since 1933.
1. Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
This act of 1986 defines a child as someone who has not reached the age of 14. It aims to control the hours and working conditions of teens who are employed as workers as well as to forbid them from working in dangerous fields.
2. Minimum Wages Act, 1948
This act of 1948 establishes the minimum amount that an organization must pay a specific employee (skilled or unskilled) for a specific task at a specified period that no contract agreement or collective agreement can reduce.
The Minimum Wage Act was initially enacted in 1948 and went into effect on March 15, 1949. The Act also established the Tripartite Committee on Fair Wage. This committee was established to establish India’s minimum wage standards.
It established the minimum wage as well as the standards for calculating it. It laid the groundwork for India’s wage fixation procedure. The number of employees determines the compensation levels.
3. The Indian Factories Act, 1948
The Factories Act of 1948 establishes the safety rules for factory workers. It is used in industries that produce commodities such as weaving cloth, knitting hosiery and other knitwear, apparel, and footwear production, dyeing and finishing textiles, producing footwear, and so forth.
The Factories Act of 1948 governs the working hours of all employees. A working week cannot be longer than 60 hours, according to the Act. The goals of this Act are to restrict factory working hours so that workers are neither overworked nor weary. The primary goals of the Act are also to preserve the health and safety of workers.
4. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000
The Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) deals with protections for children who are in confrontation with the law in India. It also makes provisions for children in need of care and protection. The Lok Sabha had been given the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2018. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, will be reformed as a result of this initiative.
5. The Children’s right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009
This act is commonly known as the RTE Act 2009, was passed by the Indian Parliament on August 4, 2009. It outlines the importance of free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 years in India, as stated in Article 21 (A) of the Indian Constitution.
This act took effect on April 1, 2010, making India one of 135 countries to make education a fundamental right for all children. It establishes basic standards for primary schools, forbids the operation of unrecognized institutions, and opposes the use of donation fees and admissions interviews among children.
- Article 21-A (Right to Education)
All children between the ages of 6 and 14 must get free and required education from the State in the way specified by law.
- Article 24 (Prohibition of employment of children in hazardous industries, etc.)
Children under the age of fourteen are not allowed to work in factories, mines, or in any other dangerous jobs.
- Article 39 (The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing-
That workers’ and men’s and women’s health and strength, as well as children’s young age, are not mistreated, and that people are not coerced by economic necessity to choose occupations unsuitable for their age or strength).
1. Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India and Ors. (1984 AIR 802)
- The petitioner, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, is a non-governmental organization that aims to improve people’s lives. They discovered other stone quarries in Faridabad during their survey where the workers were under difficult circumstances.
- The laborers who had travelled from different regions of the country to work there found the working conditions to be exceedingly unsanitary and unsatisfactory. The petitioner complained in a letter to Justice Bhagwati about the conditions at those workers’ workplaces and places of employment. According to Article 32 of the constitution, this letter was deemed to be a writ petition, and a commission was appointed to investigate the petitioner’s claims. The commission established that the claims were true and that the laborers’ rights had been violated.
The Supreme Court stated the following decision for the above case that-
- In order to ensure compliance with Section 13 of the Bonded Labor Act, 1976, the Haryana government must establish vigilance committees in each district division within six weeks of the judgment.
- In accordance with the law, the Haryana government would designate a district magistrate to identify bonded labor.
- To ensure that the Bonded Labor Act of 1976 is implemented, the state government must enlist the assistance of NGO’s and other volunteer organizations.
- Within three months of the ruling, the Haryana government must re-house the bonded laborers.
- The 1948 Minimum Wages Act must be put into effect, and both the Central and State Governments must work together to do so.
- The Central Board of Workers Education will organize camps on a regular basis to teach workers on their legal rights and benefits.
2. People’s Union for Democratic Rights Vs Union of India AIR 1982 SC 1473
- In order to produce a report on the treatment of laborers by the contractors hired by the Union of India, Delhi Development Authority, New Delhi Municipal Committee, and Delhi Administration to build roads, stadiums, swimming pools, etc. for the upcoming Asian Games, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights, an organization working to protect the democratic rights of its citizens, hired three social scientists.
- A letter addressed to the Supreme Court judge was treated as a Writ Petition on the basis of the report, which claimed that fundamental rights and rights granted by numerous labor laws had been violated.
- People’s Union for Democratic Rights was one of the petitioners, and Union of India, Delhi Development Authority, New Delhi Municipal Committee, and Delhi Administration were among the respondents.
- The rules under violation dealt with Minimum Wages (fixed at Rs. 9.25/day, however, the jamadars deducted Rs. 1, and therefore the laborers were paid only Rs 8.25/day below the minimum wage determined), Equal Remuneration (Women workers were only paid Rs 7/day for the same amount of labor given by them), and Article 24 (Children under the age of 14 were employed at such a hazardous site, i.e. Asian Games construction site). The Contract Labour (Regulations and Abolition) Act of 1970 also denied the laborers basic and human treatment.
The Supreme Court stated that, according to Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, poor workers have the right to directly petition the Supreme Court for the enforcement of rights established by various labor laws, particularly the provisions of the Contract Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act of 1970 and the Interstate Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1977, among others.
The Supreme Court upheld this right. The Supreme Court broadened the scope of Article 21’s (the Constitution’s Right to Life) interpretation to encompass both the Right to a Livelihood and the “Right to Live with Fundamental Human Dignity.”
Also, stated that in order to prevent children under the age of 14 from being employed in such hazardous work as construction sites, the Supreme Court issued an order directing every State Government to include the construction industry in Section 3(3) of the Employment of Children Act, 1938.
Indian laws on child labor are extremely complicated and challenging to understand. It is extremely distressing to witness these young youngsters struggling and experiencing agony at all stages in their lives.
It’s a complicated economic issue and is challenging to control the threat it imposes in our society’s harsh reality. The issue of child labour is noted to be a worldwide problem that affects both industrialized and developing countries.
In my opinion, the best method for eliminating child labour is Education. Lack of educational opportunities maintains the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and exploitation alive, restricting children’s options in the future and driving them to choose low-paying jobs as adults and raise their own children in poverty. The cycle of poverty that leads to child labor can be broken by providing education to children.
Agam Ravinder Lamba is a 3rd year law student pursuing BBA LLB(H) from Amity University Noida, India.