- Director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour & Social Security, Marva Pringle-Ximinnies, says the pending Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act will include stipulations regarding child labour.
- Other acceptable work would be office procedures, such as filing or clerical work, that would not be considered inappropriate for their age.
- She informed that the findings from a national survey being administered will allow the Unit to be better able to identify the nature, character and extent of child labour.
Director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour & Social Security, Marva Pringle-Ximinnies, says the pending Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act will include stipulations regarding child labour.
“The ministry is expecting to have the Act passed soon and when it is enacted, we will see the regulations of that particular piece of legislation containing a list of occupations for which children are not supposed to be engaged,” the Director said at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on May 17.
The OSH Bill is being reviewed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year. The legislation will serve to ensure strict adherence to workplace safety standards.
Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies added that the Act will include two lists, one for work that children can be engaged in and the other outlining those that they should not be doing under whatever condition or circumstances.
“So, while we are saying that children can be offered the opportunity for employment, it will be along very strict guidelines because we are protecting them from hazardous situations that could be detrimental to their growth and development,” the Director pointed out.
She noted that children should not be engaged in wind screen wiping or be on the streets darting in and out of traffic, as this is considered hazardous and they could inhale fumes or be exposed to other situations of immorality or which could make them very vulnerable.
Other occupations, she continued, would not be considered because of the use of certain equipment.
“You would not want children on construction sites and using a jack hammer because of the vibration and the noise levels. You would not want a child to be spear fishing or engaged in welding without proper equipment and supervision,” Mrs. Pringle-Ximinnies said.
On the other hand, she said that children can be engaged in light work such as packaging in the supermarket, but cautioned that the employer would have to ensure that they (children) are not lifting packages that would be inappropriate for their age.
Other acceptable work would be office procedures, such as filing or clerical work, that would not be considered inappropriate for their age.
The Director advised that if the child is engaged in the family-owned business after school, this should take place for no more than two hours as he or she must be given the opportunity for play, recreation and rest or to do their homework for reinforcement of whatever lessons were given at school.
“So, it cannot be eight hours after school or on weekends or a full work day as adults would do,” the Director said, adding that it could be four to six hours on weekends or during holidays and with the regular breaks in-between.
As it relates to rehearsals for artistic performances, she recommends one or two hours with the necessary breaks, and not a continuous six or eight hours.
“This year, we will be looking at child labour in the supply chain and emphasizing that it is everybody’s business to look out and ensure that our children are given the kind of support that is required and to report all cases of child abuse,” the Director said.
She informed that the findings from a national survey being administered will allow the Unit to be better able to identify the nature, character and extent of child labour.