India and global definitions


WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR is an International Labour Organization (ILO)-sanctioned holiday first launched in 2002 aiming to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour. It was spurred by ratifications of ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment and ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour.

World Day Against Child Labour was first established in the year 2002 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to draw constant attention to the issue of child labour and to revise and revisit our strategies to eliminate child labour. It has been 19 years since 2002, and the World Day Against Child Labour is observed on 12 June every year.


A child, suggests UNICEF, is involved in child labour activities if between 5 and 11 years of age, he or she did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work in a week, and

in case of children between 12 and 14 years of age, he or she did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of economic activity and domestic work per week. UNICEF, in another report, suggests that "Children’s work needs to be seen as happening along a continuum, with destructive or exploitative work at one end and beneficial work – promoting or enhancing children’s development without interfering with their schooling, recreation and rest – at the other. And between these two poles are vast areas of work that need not negatively affect a child’s development."

India's Census 2001 definition of child labour

India's Census 2001 office, defines child labour as participation of a child less than 17 years of age in any economically productive activity with or without compensation, wages or profit. Such participation could be physical or mental or both. This work includes part-time help or unpaid work on the farm, family enterprise or in any other economic activity such as cultivation and milk production for sale or domestic consumption. Indian government classifies child labourers into two groups: main workers are those who work 6 months or more per year, and marginal child workers are those who work at any time during the year but less than 6 months in a year.

As per the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, amended in 2016 ("CLPR Act"),

  • a "Child" is defined as any person below the age of 14, and the CLPR Act prohibits employment of a Child in any employment including as a domestic help. It is a cognizable criminal offence to employ a Child for any work. Children between age of 14 and 18 are defined as "Adolescent" and the law allows Adolescent to be employed except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes which include mining, inflammable substance and explosives related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948. In 2001, an estimated 1% of all child workers, or about 1,20,000 children in India were in a hazardous job. Notably, the Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24. UNICEF estimates that India with its larger population, has the highest number of labourers in the world under 14 years of age, while sub-Saharan African countries have the highest percentage of children who are deployed as child labourers. The International Labour Organization estimates that agriculture, at 60 percent, is the largest employer of child labour in the world, while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 70% of child labour is deployed in agriculture and related activities. Outside of agriculture, child labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy

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