What are the legal requirements when a person under 18 is working for me? - Justice Centres Uganda

What are the legal requirements when a person under 18 is working for me?

Generally, the minimum age of employment of a child is sixteen (16) years in Uganda. A child under the age of fourteen (14) years shall not be employed in any business undertaking or workplace, except in the following circumstances:

  1. light work carried out under the supervision of an adult;
  2. where the work does not exceed fourteen hours per week.

Nonetheless, children can be employed under apprenticeship programmes:

  • A child from the age of twelve (12) to seventeen (17) years engaged in educational training and apprenticeship programmes which are on the list of harzadous work, shall first be approved by a Commissioner before they can take part in such work.
  • Any employer who wishes to engage a child in an apprenticeship or artistic performance shall apply to the Labour Commissioner.
  • The Labour Commissioner shall issue permits to the employer restricting the age, number of hours of work and conditions in which work in apprenticeship and artistic performances is allowed.

Further regulations must be taken into account:

1. Display list of hazardous work

All employers are legally mandated to display the national list of hazardous work not permitted for employment of a child at their premises.

2. Hours of work

A child aged between fifteen (15) and eighteen (18) years who has completed his or her education or does not attend school, may work up to seven hours a day but shall not exceed thirty five hours per week.

3. Overtime

Overtime work is prohibited for a child aged between fifteen (15) to seventeen years.

4. Night work

A child shall not be employed at night between the hours of 7.00.p.m and 7.00 a.m.

5. Medical examination

  • A child shall undergo a medical examination before engaging in any job.
  • The medical examination shall be done after every six months.
  • A child who undergoes a medical examination shall be issued with a medical certificate.

6. Register

An employer engaging a child between the ages of fifteen to seventeen years in employment shall keep a register.

The Register of employment of young persons contains; the name of the child and parents, date of birth, sex, home address, nature of work and pay, name of employer, location and address of employer, work schedule and school attended.

7. Authorisation by the Commissioner in the Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Developement, responsible for labour

  • An employer shall before engaging a child aged between fifteen to seventeen years, in employment, obtain authorisation from the Commissioner.
  • The Commissioner verifies, the child’s age; parental permission; prior instruction and training in the required job; availability and use of protective clothing and a medical certificate before granting authorisation.

The Controlling Body for Child Labour is the District Labour Officer!

One of the functions of the District Labour Officer is to restrict and monitor the employment of children. The Labour Officer does this by:

  1. Notifying an employer who is found employing a child in dangerous and unsuitable work to discontinue that employment.
  2. Ensuring that the list of hazardous work not permitted for employment of a child is displayed by all employers at their premises.
  3. Preparing a quarterly report on employment of children and young persons and submitting it to the Commissioner for labour and give a copy to the Chief Administrative Officer of the district.

Note: A person who obstructs a labour officer in the exercise of the power conferred on them in this respect commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding UGX. 120,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three months or both.

Settlement of complaints of child labour by a District labour officer

A complaint concerning employment of a child in dangerous, exploitative and harmful work shall be lodged with the labour officer. The settlement of the complaint follows the procedure below:-

Procedure for receiving of complaints of child labour by the labour officer

  • Every complaint lodged with the labour officer shall be registered in a register for complaints by the labour officer.
  • Upon receipt of the complaint, the labour officer shall notify the respondent/ employer in written form of the complaint against him or her advising them to settle the matter within themselves if possible and if not, to forward their comments to the labour officer about the complaints raised.
  • If there’s an agreement to settle the matter, between the complainant and the respondent/ employer, it shall be in a form called a complaint settlement payment certificate provided by the labour officer.
  • Where the labour officer does not receive a response to the complaint within fourteen days, he or she shall issue a reminder to the respondent/ employer in written form.

Procedure to be followed by a labour officer during hearings

  • Upon receipt of a response from the employer/ respondent to the dispute, the labour officer shall within fourteen days after receipt of the response, summon the parties in question for a reconciliation meeting, facilitate discussions, guide parties on matters concerning relevant laws and try to settle the matter.
  • Where the parties fail to come to a compromise, the labour officer shall summon witnesses or require the production of documents relating to the complaint and may propose solutions to the complaint.
  • Upon completion of the hearing proceedings, the labour officer shall make an order that is binding on both parties and state the reasons for his or her decisions on the complaint.
  • The order shall be complied with by either party within seven days from the date the order was made.
  • Where the order given is not complied with, the complaint shall be referred to the Commissioner.
  • Upon receipt of the complaint, the Commissioner shall within fourteen days review and resolve the matter and where the matter is not resolved the Commissioner shall refer it to the Industrial Court.

Note: The labour officer shall presume the complaint settled if the complainant fails to appear within seven days, without reasonable excuse, from the date of the conciliation meeting.

Appeal to the Industrial Court

An appeal from the decisions of a labour officer concerning employment of a child in unsuitable, harmful or exploitative work can be lodged with to the Industrial Court. The appeal shall be made in the form specified by the law. The court may confirm, modify or reverse any decision from which an appeal is made.



  • The 1995 Constitution of Uganda (as amended)
  • Children Act Cap 59
  • Children (Amendment) Act of 2016
  • Employment Act No. 6, 2006
  • Penal Code Act
  • Penal Code (Amendment Act) 2007
  • The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, No. 6, 2009
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act, No. 9, 2006
  • The Education Act, 2008 (Universal Primary Education)
  • The Local Governments Act, 1997
  • The Mining Act 2005 restricts and prevents children from working underground.
  • The Employment (Employment of Children) Regulations, 2012
  • other publications (National Child Labour Policy)