Although they are forced to be worked in various job areas, not all work performed by children is child labour. Whether a job could be considered as child labour or not depends on various criteria such as the age of the child, the work environment and conditions, the type of work performed, the working hours, and its effect on the education of the child as well as the policies and legal regulations set by countries in this field. The figure below summarizes the work children do:
|Work Performed by Children
||Children’s Participation in Work
||Child Labour Contrary to Legislation
- To earn pocket money
- Only on holidays or without interfering with their schooling
- For short working working hours
- At family business
- Minimum working age 15 or over
- As part of vocational training or to earn wages
- In line with conditions and for durations set by laws
- At jobs fit for their age
- Under the minimum working age
- Jobs mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful for children, no matter what their age is
- At jobs and under conditions that are not fit for their age
- At jobs qualifying as the worst form of child labour
When talking about child and youth labour, the concepts of “children’s participation in work”, “child labour”, “the worst form of child labour” and “young worker” are being frequently used. These concepts are respectively explained below.
Children’s Participation in Work
Children’s participation in work covers the work that provides children with skills and experience, contributes to children’s development and to the welfare of their families, and allows them to be protected and looked after while working. Some work is not considered as child labour due to their structure, nature, and special conditions. For instance, children’s participation in work which:
- Presents no to their development, health, or security,
- Does not interfere with their schooling,
- Does not interfere with their vocational training or attendance to a training programme approved by the competent authorities and prevent them from benefiting such activities is not considered as child labour.
According to the International Labour Organization, activities such as helping out parents around the household, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays can be considered useful and even necessary, as they will improve children’s practical knowledge and skills.
Many children and young people around the world work under unsuitable conditions in jobs that are harmful to their health, violate their safety, interferes with their education, and take long hours. The International Labour Organization (ILO) considers this type of work as a major violation of children’s rights. Child labour is the act of employing children in jobs that prevent them from exercising their rights, primarily their right to education, and harm their health as well as their physical and psycho-social development.
Article 71 of the Labour Law No. 4857 stipulates the following:
- It is forbidden to employ children who have not completed the age of 15.
- However, children who have completed the age of 14 as well as compulsory primary education may be employed in light jobs that will not hinder their physical, mental, social and moral development nor interfere with their schooling if they are attending a school.
- Children who have not completed the age of 14 may be employed in artistic, cultural and advertising activities that will not hinder their physical, mental, social and moral development nor interfere with their schooling if they are attending a school, provided that a written contract is made and a separate permission is obtained for each activity.
The Worst Forms of Child Labour
In 1999, the International Labour Organization (ILO) drafted and adopted the Convention No. 182 “Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour” and the related Recommendation No. 190. The convention has been ratified by all 187 member states of the ILO. Countries that have ratified Convention No. 182 must take urgent and effective measures to address as an urgent issue, prohibit and end the worst forms of child labour. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “child” applies to anyone under the age of 18.
For the purposes of this Convention, the term “worst forms of child labour” covers the following:
- all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
- the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
- the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
- work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
Turkey ratified the ILO Convention No. 182 on August 2, 2001 and revised its national legislation in line with the provisions of the Convention. The worst forms of child labour which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children in Turkey are as follows:
- Street working
- Working in heavy and dangerous jobs in small and medium-sized businesses
- Working in mobile and temporary agricultural work for wages, except family work in agriculture
Regulation on the Procedures and Principles of Employing Child and Young Workers
Pursuant to Article 71 of the Labour Law No. 4857, the “Regulation on the Procedures and Principles of Employing Young Workers”, which covers the limitations regarding the exposure of those under 18 year olds to dangers and their working conditions, is prepared. The purpose of this Regulation is to determine the principles of working methods for child and young workers without damaging their health and safety, their physical, mental, moral and social developments or their education, and to prevent their abuse for economic purposes. This Regulation specifies basic information on working ages, working conditions, working periods, annual leaves and weekly holidays of child and young workers. For the purposes of this Regulation,
- A young worker is a person who has completed the age of 15 but has not completed the age of 18,
- A child worker is a person who has completed the age of 14, has not completed the age of 15 and has completed primary education.
This Regulation covers the principles and procedures on:
- Jobs that are prohibited in terms of child and young workers who have not completed the age of 18,
- Jobs in which young workers who have completed the age of 15 but have not completed the age of 18 are allowed to work,
- Light jobs in which children who have completed the age of 14 as well as primary education can be employed, as well as the working conditions related thereto.
Article 5 of the Regulation states that the safety, health, physical, mental, moral, and psycho-social development as well as personal predisposition and abilities of child and young workers should be taken into consideration during their recruitment and employment.
Preventing Child Labour
The concept of prevention can be defined as the set of actions taken to prevent an event from occurring. It is also defined as an activity carried out to stop and prevent a present or potential danger. Preventing child labour before children start working or before the problem arises at all is the first critical step in combating child labour.