According to the International Labour Organization, child labour is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity.
It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by:
- Depriving them of the opportunity to attend school
- Obliging them to leave school prematurely, or
- Requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
The concept of child labour is based on the ILO Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), which represents the most comprehensive and authoritative international definition of minimum age for admission to employment or work. Under the Ghana Children Act 1998, minimum age for admission of children into employment is fifteen (15). However, children may be employed at the age of thirteen (13) to do light work. The minimum age for engagement of persons in hazardous work is eighteen (18).
Whilst child labour by both boys and girls takes many different forms, the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) as defined by Article 3 of the ILO Convention No. 182 is a priority. The convention calls for immediate prohibition of the WFCL, enacting laws, regulations and standards. Secondly, it requires ratifying states to take urgent and effective measures to eliminate these worst forms through programmes of action. It applies to all children under the age of 18, but calls for special attention to girls.
Are employers allowed to engage children in hazardous work?
No. Employers are not allowed to engage children in exploitative labour which deprives children of education, healthcare and development.