New Child Labour Act 2015 on the cards
The Punjab government has decided to introduce a new act for protection of child from labour in the backdrop of the tragic incident of Sundar Industrial Estate factory building collapse which took lives of number of underage labourers as well.
The chief minister has approved the new act 'Punjab Restriction of Employment of Children Act 2015' under which it has prohibited the employment of children and restricted the employment of adolescents in certain occupations and processes. Whereas it is expedient to prohibit the employment of children and restrict the employment of adolescents in certain occupations and deal with ancillary matters.
The proposed Bill will be tabled before the provincial cabinet soon, followed by the provincial assembly for formal legislation to make it an Act.
The Punjab government has adopted the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on worst form of child labour to promulgate a new act. This convention describes under hazardous work which states ‘any work which is likely to jeopardise children’s physical, mental or moral health, safety or morals should not be done by anyone under the age of 18’. According to the approved draft by the chief minister, a copy of which is available with The News stated that ‘The Employment of Children Act, 1991 (V of 1991) prohibits employment of children in the hazardous occupations / processes and otherwise regulates the employment of children or adolescents, which is not in conformity with the Article 11(3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and relevant conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) (C.138 & C.182) ratified by the Government of Pakistan. Moreover, the overriding effect of the Employment of Children Act, 1991 on the other laws relating to prohibition of employment of children in factories, mines, shops and establishments have made the relevant provisions of these laws redundant in their application. Prohibition of Employment of Children in the wide range of establishments and of the adolescents in hazardous occupations and process viz-a-viz regulation of employment of adolescent in the occupation and processes other than hazardous has been proposed through this Bill by substituting the Employment of Children Act, 1991 (V of 1991).
Under the Act, the government will constitute Provincial Committee on Child Labour to advise it for appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for eradication of child labour and to set the minimum age for purposes of employment in the province.
The committee shall consist of a chairperson and not more than eight members representing the government, employers, workers and civil society.
The Act stated that an establishment (any industrial, commercial or agricultural establishment, factory, mine, workshop, business, trade, undertaking, and place where any economic activity is being carried on; and, includes charitable and welfare organisations, whether run for profit or otherwise; and any other establishment, class of establishments or workplace notified by the government in official gazette), in which the hazardous work is not being undertaken or carried on an adolescent can work with some conditions.
These conditions are that an occupier (the person who, directly or indirectly, employs a worker in an establishment and includes: (i) in case of an individual, his heir, successor, administrator or assign; and (ii) a person who has the ultimate control over the affairs of the establishment), shall not require or permit an adolescent to work in the establishment in excess of such number of hours as may be prescribed.
The occupier shall fix the period of work of an adolescent on each day which shall not exceed three hours and, if the adolescent is required to work for more than three hours in a day, the occupier shall provide a mandatory interval of at least one hour for rest to the adolescent immediately after three hours of work. The total period of work of an adolescent in a day, including mandatory interval for rest, shall not exceed seven hours. An occupier shall not require or permit an adolescent to work between 7pm and 8am. An occupier shall not require or permit an adolescent to work overtime.
An occupier shall not require or permit an adolescent to work in the establishment on any day on which the adolescent has already been working in any other establishment. The occupier shall arrange hours of work of an adolescent in a manner that the working hours are not in conflict with the timing of the school or educational institution of the adolescent.
An occupier shall allow an adolescent employed in the establishment a holiday of at least one whole day in a week which day shall be specified by the occupier in a notice permanently displayed at a conspicuous place in the establishment and the day so specified shall not be altered by the occupier more than once in three months.
Every occupier in relation to an establishment in which an adolescent is employed or permitted to work shall, within a period of 30 days from the commencement of this Act or employment of the adolescent send to the Inspector within whose local limits the establishment is situated, a written notice containing the following particulars:
(a) the name, location and address of the establishment; (b) the name of the person in actual management of the establishment; (c) the address to which communications relating to the establishment should be sent; (d) the name, address and other particulars of the adolescent; and (e) the nature of the occupation or process carried on in the establishment.
Nothing in sections 7, 8 and 9 shall apply to any establishment wherein any process is carried on by the occupier with the aid of his family or to any educational or training institution established, assisted or recognised by the government, the federal government or any agency, body or authority established, owned or controlled by any such government.
If any question arises between an inspector and an occupier as to the age of any child or adolescent who is employed or is permitted to work in the establishment, the question shall, in the absence of a certificate as to the age of such child or adolescent granted by the prescribed authority, be referred by the inspector for decision to the prescribed medical authority.
An occupier shall maintain a register in respect of adolescents employed or permitted to work in the establishment and shall make the register available for inspection to an inspector at all times during working hours of the establishment showing: (a) the name and date of birth of every adolescent so employed or permitted to work; (b) hours and periods of work of any such adolescent and the intervals of rest to which he is entitled; (c) the nature of work of any such adolescent and (d) such other particulars as may be prescribed.
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