It is a criminal offence to employ children who should be at school: Nxesi slams child labour

17 June 2023 - 12:00
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi. File photo.
Image: Jairus Mmutle Employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi. File photo.

It is a criminal offence to employ children when they should be at school, says employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi. 

Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, he said the government's stance on this was clear and “childhood is a critical time for growth, learning and development”.

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, it is a criminal offence to employ a child younger than 15, except in the performing arts with a permit from the department of labour.

Children aged 15 to 18 may not be employed to do work inappropriate for their age or work that places them at risk.

Nxesi called on the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) member states to ramp up efforts to deal with child labour and other indignities people experience while trying to earn a living.

The Durban call to action outlines commitments to end the scourge through:

  • making decent work a reality;
  • ending child labour in agriculture;
  • strengthening prevention and elimination efforts;
  • realising children's rights to education;
  • achieving universal access to social protection; and
  • increasing financing and international co-operation.

“These commitments reflect our collective determination to create a world free from child labour and promote social justice for all. The target of 2025 is just around the corner, so it is important we ramp up our efforts to deal with this scourge,” said Nxesi.

The journey to eliminate child labour was far from over, he added, with the Covid-19 pandemic, armed conflicts and humanitarian crises threatening to reverse progress made.

“We must address the root causes of child labour, such as poverty, inequality and lack of education, while promoting decent work for adults.”

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