India Child Labour Laws

June 18th 2024

Child labour is a serious problem that affects the health, education, and future of children. In India, the government has created laws to protect children from being exploited.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of India’s legal framework governing child labour, exploring the key provisions and constitutional mandates designed to protect children from hazardous work.

This Article Covers: 

Employment Age for Minors in India

In India, employment for minors is strictly regulated by several laws aimed at protecting children from exploitation and ensuring their right to education. The age limit in India as of 2024 is still 14—by legal definition, a child is below the age of 14, and an adolescent is between 14 and 18.

Key Legislations Governing Child Labour Law in India

  • Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The act prohibits the employment of children under 14 years of age in any occupation. Exceptions include working in their family business or entertainment industry as child artists, provided their work does not interfere with their education. Furthermore, the act prohibits adolescents from working in hazardous occupations and processes. Hazardous occupations include jobs in mines, factories, and other environments deemed dangerous to health and safety.
  • Factories Act of 1948: The act prohibits the employment of children below 14 years in any factory. Adolescents may work in factories but are subject to strict regulations regarding working hours, safety, and health conditions.
  • Mines Act of 1952: This act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years in any mine. This includes both underground and above-ground mining activities.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015: This law addresses the protection and rehabilitation of children in need, including those involved in child labour. Employers or any individuals employing children in hazardous or exploitative conditions are penalised.
  • Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: This act ensures that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 have access to free and compulsory education. This law aims to eliminate child labour by prioritising education and making it accessible to all children.

Working Permit for Minors in India

While there is no formal working permit system in India, employment of adolescents in non-hazardous occupations must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Employers must verify the minor’s age to ensure compliance with the age limit in India. Proof of age can include birth certificates, school records, or other government-issued documents.
  • Working hours should not exceed six hours a day or 36 hours a week. A weekly day off is mandatory and work should not interfere with the adolescent’s education.
  • Employers must ensure safe and healthy working conditions.

Age Certification for Minors in India

In India, age certification for minors is required to ensure compliance with labour laws, help prevent the exploitation of underage workers, and ensure they are employed only when legally eligible. An age certification serves as proof of a minor’s eligibility for employment.

Employers require official documents such as birth certificates or school records to verify the age of minors and ensure their employment eligibility. Upon the issuance of age certification, government authorities verify and ensure the authenticity of documents provided by minors or their guardians. Employers rely on age certification to ensure hiring workers who only meet the legal age requirements.

Working Hours for Minors in India

Working hours for minors in India are regulated to safeguard their health, education, and overall well-being. Adolescents (aged 14 to 18) are permitted to work a maximum of six hours daily with a compulsory rest period of at least one hour after working consecutively for three hours. The total weekly working hours should not extend beyond 36.

Adolescents are prohibited from working between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. This means no minor employees are permitted or required to work a night shift. Furthermore, minor employees in India are entitled to at least one day off per week.

Break Requirements for Minors in India

Minor employees aged 14 to 18 are entitled to specific break requirements while working. These breaks are mandated to ensure their well-being and compliance with labour laws. Minors are entitled to a rest period of at least one hour after every three hours of continuous work. This rest period is mandatory.

Minors, including adolescents, are permitted to work a maximum of six hours daily. This includes the time spent on mandatory rest breaks. The total weekly working hours for minor employees in India must be at most 36 hours.

Those who are working in family enterprises may have more flexible break arrangements, but the total working hours should still comply. Minors working as child artists may have varying break schedules depending on the nature of their work.

Banned Jobs for Minors in India

In India, specific occupations are deemed hazardous or unsuitable for minors, and regulations prohibit minors from engaging in such work. The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 protects young workers by prohibiting the following:

  • Mining Industry: Minors are prohibited from working in mines, including underground and surface mining operations. Mining poses significant health and safety risks, including exposure to hazardous substances, accidents, and injuries.
  • Manufacturing Industry: Jobs that involve the operation of heavy machinery or equipment, such as factories and construction sites, are banned for minors. These occupations pose risks of accidents and injuries due to the use of machinery.
  • Chemical Industry: Minors are banned from working in industries involving the handling of toxic chemicals, pesticides, or other hazardous substances. Exposure to such chemicals can have severe health consequences, including respiratory problems, skin disorders, and long-term illnesses.
  • Fireworks and Explosives Industry: Jobs related to the manufacturing, handling, or storage of fireworks, explosives, or pyrotechnic materials are prohibited for minors. These industries involve significant risks of accidents, explosions, and severe injuries.
  • Entertainment Industry: While minors are allowed to work as child artists, certain roles or activities involving potential risks or exploitation are banned. This includes stunts, action sequences, or scenes with explicit content that may endanger the child’s safety or well-being.
  • Agricultural Work: While agricultural work is permissible for minors, certain hazardous tasks, such as operating heavy machinery or handling pesticides, are banned.

Government authorities and labour inspectors monitor workplaces to ensure compliance with regulations regarding banned jobs for minors. Employers and the public can report violations of regulations prohibiting minors from engaging in banned jobs to authorities. Complaints are investigated, and appropriate action is taken against non-compliant employers.

Sanctions for Employing Minors in India

Employers found guilty of employing children below the legal age limit in India face imprisonment of not less than three months to a year, a fine of not less than INR 10,000 to INR 20,000, or both. Repeat offences are punishable with imprisonment of not less than six months to two years.

Learn more about India Labour Law through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.