Regulations on child labour

| 01/10/2017

What age can children start working and is there a restriction on the hours and times?

Auntie’s answer: I asked the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for help with your question. For the first part, an official explained, “There is no minimum age restricting when a child may start working.”

However, there are regulations concerning hours and types of work that a child (defined as under 14 years old in the Labour Law, with a juvenile under seventeen) may undertake.

And, not surprisingly, the Education Law and the Education Regulations set out certain restrictions on children working. “In terms of hours of work, the Education Law, 2016 and the Education Regulations 2017 provide that a child of compulsory school age may not work during school hours. To employ a child of compulsory school age to work during school hours is an offence,” the official said.

Under the regulations, anyone who commits that offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2,000.

School age is basically defined as between the age of five and seventeen, or when the child has met the requirements of obtaining a secondary school diploma or its equivalent.

Furthermore, the official explained, “A particular child’s school hours depend on the school that they attend. The only exceptions to this are where a school leader has authorised work experience for a student, or the work forms part of technical and vocational education and training provided by a school.”

Even though you didn’t ask, Section 80A of the Labour Law, “Worst forms of child labour”, sets out the types of work (making sure to include slavery and forced or compulsory labour; I have no words for that one) that are against the law. I am sure most people could figure out the exclusions themselves, but, if not, you can look it up on the CNS Library).

In addition, which I admit surprised me, the official said, “There is no international convention in force for the Cayman Islands governing a minimum working age.”

But I was also told that the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child is extended to the Cayman Islands. When it comes to work, Article 32 of the Convention says:

“1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

“2.States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular:
(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment;
(b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment;
(c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.”

Yes, it is a bit confusing that the Convention calls for the provision of a minimum age requirement yet Cayman doesn’t have one. If anyone wants to weigh in on that issue, please feel free.

The laws mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library


Category: Ask Auntie, Labour Questions

Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The inmates are running the asylum!

  2. West bay Premier says:

    Sounds like the kids made the Laws for themselves .