It will be an offence to employ children not only in factories but also in home or on farms

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal for amending the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, to ban employment of children aged up to 14 in any form of industry. It will be an offence to employ such children not only in factories or industries but also in homes or on farms, if their labour is meant to serve any commercial interest.

The Ministry of Labour is likely to introduce the amendment bill in Parliament soon.

Quoting the National Sample Survey Organisation’s figures, official sources said the amendment would benefit 46 lakh children, who have been working in various industries now, and they can concentrate on education.

The Cabinet also approved another amendment to define children aged 14-18 as “adolescents” and prohibit their employment in mines, explosives industries, chemical and paint industries and other hazardous establishments.

The government’s decision is in line with the convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which prohibits any form of child labour until the age of 14.

Since the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or RTE now stipulates compulsory and free education of children up to the age of 14, the upper age limit in the Child Labour Act has been kept at 14.

The RTE, which makes education fundamental right of a child, was passed by Parliament on August 4, 2009. It sets forth the modalities of free and compulsory education for children aged 6-14.

“Tomorrow if the government increases the upper age limit under the RTE from the present 14 to 16 or 18, the Child Labour Act will also be amended suitably, and the age limit for defining ‘child labour’ will be reworked,” the sources said.