An ‘act’ to curb child labour, hazardous jobs
LAHORE: The new draft law dealing with child labour in the commercial and industrial sectors of Punjab is all set to become an Act aimed at banning children up to 14 years from all types of employment.
It also aims to ban all adolescents (up to 18 years) from the employment of all hazardous occupations.
The Punjab Cabinet, in its upcoming meeting, is likely to approve The Punjab Restriction of Employment of Children Act 2015 which will repeal The Employment of Children Act 1991 which failed to overcome child labour and employment of adolescents in the commercial and industrial establishments.
The Punjab Labour & Human Resource Department has already got approval of the draft from the chief minister after vetting by the provincial law department, Dawn learnt.
The new draft law has been proposed keeping in view the ‘poor’ implementation of international conventions pertaining to labour rights to maintain GSP Plus status to avail tariff concessions for exports of Pakistani products to the EU.
Punjab Cabinet likely to approve new law
Sources in the Labour & Human Resource Department told Dawn on Friday that the gaps between the ECA 1991 and few other acts like The Mines Act 1923, The Factories Act 1934 and The Shops and Establishments Ordinance 1969 being implemented in the country with provisions of children and adolescents had been identified and plugged in the new act for better enforcement and maintaining GSP Plus status.
They said one of the salient features of the new draft act clearly specified child labour ban on both the hazardous and non-hazardous occupations in all categories contrary to the ECA 1991.
They said the progressive role of the provincial steering committee in the new act had been defined with more legislative and administrative approach to curb child labour. The committee would monitor implementation of child labour laws and recommend new enforcements in line with the International Labour Organization’s conventions.
Under the law, adolescents would not work in hazardous occupations. The adolescents, however, can work in non-hazardous occupations on soft terms and conditions.
According to the new draft law, the working hours of the adolescents will not clash with their study hours and field formations would observe their timings regularly.
Another feature of the law is to protect a provision of Article 25 of the Constitution which says “the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law.”
The new draft law also proposes revision in different penalties set for violators of the child labour laws.
Sources said the new act would enhance powers of the labour inspectors to check violations of child labour at a time when the department had no up-to-date record of children working in the commercial and industrial sectors as the government had not conducted children survey after 1996.