Child labour

Child labour is a serious human rights issue. Working children not only lose their access to education, they are also negatively impacted in terms of their physical and psychological growth.

What is child labour?

Child labour is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as “work that deprives children (people under age 15) of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” [1]

Why this matters?

Child labour is a serious human rights issue. Working children not only lose their access to education, they are also negatively impacted in terms of their physical and psychological growth, especially if they work under very harsh conditions. It is important that companies respect children’s right to education and ensure their healthy growth.

Many countries define the legal working age. The type of work and number of working hours are usually restricted for young workers under the age of 18. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work commits Member States to respect the abolishment of child labour. [2]

How – procedures to manage child labour risks

  • Policy. Establish a company policy that prevents it and its suppliers from using or benefitting from child labour.
  • Control procedures. Establish control procedures to meet the company’s policy commitment. Controls could be integrated with human rights’ due diligence processes, or hiring requirements and procedures. Employment contracts and other records, documenting all relevant details of the employees, including age, are maintained by all units and are open to verification by any authorised personnel or relevant statutory body. If young workers are employed, a tracking procedure should be established to ensure that they are not involved in hazardous work and that their working hours permit them to continue their schooling.
  • Remediation procedure. A remediation procedure should be established in the event that it comes to light that the company has caused or contributed to the actual infringement of the right of a child to be free from child labour. It may help to take note of the following steps as immediate actions to be taken.
    - Assess whether it is in the best interest of the children to be dismissed or kept at work. If children should be kept at work, ensure that they are removed from hazardous work and reduce their working hours.
    - Develop an improvement plan to mitigate further risk.

Example of a child labour policy

"[Company Name] does not employ any person below the legal minimum age. We also have a policy of zero tolerance against its breach.”

Maersk Policy

Click here to see Maersk’s policy on child labour.

Download 

Download the Supplier Sustainability Guidance-pdf here