ECONOMYNEXT – Recent events in Sri Lanka involving the death of an ex-minister’s teenage domestic aide may have compelled authorities to add to a list of occupations deemed hazardous for children under the age of 18.
Commissioner General of Labour Prabath Chandrakeerthi told EconomyNext Monday (26) afternoon that, with “recent events related to child labour”, the list of hazardous occupations has been increased from 51 to 71.
“Before 2021, the minimum age of employment was 14 years in all sectors. But we increased it to 16 this year because, in 2016, the upper age limit for compulsory education was increased to 16,” he said.
The 2016 Education Act extended the age limit for compulsory to education to 16.
Chandrakeerthi said the minimum age of labour was moved up to 16 since there was a conflict between the ages of compulsory education and of labour and as 15 years is internationally held to be the minimum age for employment
“However, no one can employ children between 16 and 18 years for hazardous work [as listed by the Department of Labour],” he said.
Occupations added to the list include certain types of work in the fisheries sector, jobs that involve dangerous chemicals, certain types of hazardous work in households such as washing cars and changing tyres, and performing dangerous activities while acting in movies and television shows in which children under 18 cannot be employed.
“We have already finalised the draft bill and sent it to the legal draftsman. We are waiting for their observations and recommendations by the Attorney General’s Department
In order to forward it to the cabinet,” said Chandrakeerthi.
The Labour Ministry and the Department of Labour are considering increasing fines related to violations of child labour laws to at least Rs 100,000 from the current fine of Rs 10,000, he added. (Colombo/July26/2021)