CHILDREN’S RIGHTS/ LABOUR RIGHTS
The minimum age of employment of a child is sixteen (16) years. A child under the age of fourteen (14) years shall not be employed in any business undertaking or workplace, except in the following circumstances:
- light work carried out under the supervision of an adult;
- where the work does not exceed fourteen hours per week.
What type of work is a child allowed to undertake?
A child is allowed to undertake light work. Light work is work that is not harmful to the child’s health and development, doesn’t affect their school attendance and participation in vocational training and should not exceed fourteen hours per week.
- attending to and serving guests;
- sweeping, cleaning the floor and organising the house;
- cleaning and polishing shoes;
- washing clothes;
- cleaning places where animals are kept;
- making purchases in the market or shops;
- looking for firewood;
- cleaning the toilet and bathroom;
- helping out in the garden; and
- preparing family meals.
What is child labour?
Child Labour is illegal! Child Labour denies children their fundamental human rights such as the right to education, right to rest and leisure and free from unfair working conditions. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda under Article 34 (4) provides for the protection of children from socio-economic exploitation and restricts them from performing child labour.
Child labour is work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to a child, and the circumstances under which it is performed endanger the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development or in the worst forms of child labour.
Forms of child labour:
Child labour manifests itself in various forms and some of these are when children:
- are exposed to dangerous machinery, equipment and tools;
- carry heavy loads beyond their capacity;
- work in unhealthy environments that expose them to hazardous substances, infectious diseases, excessive noise, temperature or vibrations;
- are exposed to harassment or physical, psychological or sexual abuse;
- work underground, in water, or at heights;
- are unreasonably confined to the premises of the employers;
- work for long hours.
Child labour is found in different sectors including domestic service, commercial agriculture (tea and sugar plantations), the informal sector, hotels and bars, construction, fishing, mining, stone and sand quarrying.
Where to report instances of child labour:
- The Police (Child and Family Protection Unit)
- The Local Council
- The District Labour Officer
- Courts of law including Industrial Court
- Justice Centres Uganda
- SAUTI 116 (Child Helpline)
Punishment for child labour offences:
- A person who witnesses an abuse against the rights of a child shall, as soon as possible, report the matter to the police or any authority responsible for child welfare. Failure to do so, a person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding UGX. 400,000 (twenty currency points) or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.
- The Penal Code (Amendment Act) 2007 Prohibits sexual abuse against children and criminalizes abduction, child trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, child stealing; and commercial sexual exploitation. Conviction against any of these cases carries a maximum sentence of seven years.
- Under the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, No. 6, 2009, a person commits the offence of aggravated trafficking where the victim of trafficking is a child.
A person who while having reason to believe that a person is a victim of trafficking engages the labour or services of that victim in that status, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for ten years.
- A person who uses a child in any armed conflict commits an offence of aggravated trafficking in children and may be liable to suffer death.
- Where a person is convicted of trafficking in persons, the court may in addition to any other punishment order that person to pay compensation to the victim for— Physical injury; Emotional distress; Pain and suffering; Loss or damage; Any other damage that the court may deem fit.
- It shall be unlawful for any person to:- use inducement or coercion in the encouragement of a child to engage in any sexual activity; use children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices; and use children in pornographic performances or materials. A person who contravenes this commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding UGX. 2,000,000 (one hundred currency points) or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years.
- 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.