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Policy Framework for Child Labour in Pakistan

National

National Strategy to Eliminate Child and Bonded Labour in Pakistan, 2016

The strategy provides a framework for the coordination of efforts to eliminate child labour and bonded labour. This is to be achieved through capacity development, policy integration, mainstreaming child and bonded labour issues, strengthening law enforcement, and enhancing the system of data collection, analysis and use on child and bonded labour. It involves partnerships, resource mobilization, and information, education and communications. The strategy was developed by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.

National Labour Protection Framework, 2018

This time-bound document covers seven thematic areas: child labour, forced labour, labour inspection, freedom of association, non-discrimination, occupational safety and health (OSH), and social dialogue. For each area, it addresses legislative, institutional, coverage and capacity building-related issues. The framework consists of Provincial Implementation Plans (PIPs), which highlight promising legislative and policy initiatives, address specific provincial measures, and provide timelines on child and bonded labour. The framework was developed by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.

Provincial

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Labour Policy, 2018

The policy commits to the promotion of ‘decent work for all’ by prioritizing improvements in health and safety, ensuring the payment of wages through scheduled banks, addressing discrimination and promoting women’s entry into the labour market. It aims to reinvigorate the labour inspection mechanism, promote social dialogue, extend the coverage of laws to uncovered workers, and integrate efforts for the sustained elimination of child labour and bonded labour. The policy seeks to extend social security to all brick kiln workers in the province within three years.

Sindh Labour Policy, 2018

The policy provides a framework for industrial relations and the promotion of the social and economic well-being of workers. It commits Sindh to simplifying and consolidating labour laws and abolishing child labour and bonded labour. It also aims to extend social protection and workers’ welfare to workers in the informal economy, including domestic and home-based workers. Other priorities include resolving disputes, improving health and safety, protecting workers’ fundamental rights, creating a pro-worker and pro-industry environment, minimum wages for working children and improving access to education and training.

Punjab Labour Policy, 2018

The policy commits Punjab to the effective implementation of labour standards, social dialogue, improved workplace safety, an objective living wage and the elimination of child labour and bonded labour. This includes awareness raising, strengthening of labour inspection, quality technical training, simplification of labour laws, provision of medical facilities for workers registered with the Punjab Social Security Institution – even after retirement – and gradual extension of labour protection to all workers.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Labour Policy, 2018

The policy advocates for the gradual eradication of child labour through a participatory approach. This includes policy integration, availability of reliable statistics, research and development, awareness raising among key stakeholders, improvement of workplaces, immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour, coordinated efforts to increase enrolment in schools, referral mechanisms and effective law enforcement.

Legal Framework for Child Labour

National

Constitution of Pakistan, 1973

The Constitution of Pakistan prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any factory, mine or other hazardous employment under Article 11(3) of the Constitution. The Constitution also guarantees the right to education for all children between the ages of five and sixteen years under Article 25-A. Article 37(e) provides that the state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that women and children are not employed in vacations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.

Pakistan Penal Code, 1860

The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860 is primarily concerned with prescribing criminal offenses and their punishments in Pakistan. It does not specifically address child labour as a criminal offense. In 2016, a new section 328 was added to PPC.  Section 328-A of the PPC, 1860 criminalizes the offense of cruelty to a child. According to this section, whoever causes cruelty to any child either by exposing him to any situation where his life or health is likely to be endangered or by doing any act that is likely to cause him physical or mental suffering shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine, or with both.

Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018

The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018 is a law to combat human trafficking in the whole country. The provisions of the Act aim to protect survivors of trafficking, ensure that victims are not criminalised, establish severe penalties for offenders – especially for trafficking in women and children – and raise awareness among stakeholders and the public. Anyone who recruits, harbours, transports, provides or obtains another person, or attempts to recruit, harbour, transport, provide or receive another person for the purpose of ‘compelled labour’ or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion commits the offence of trafficking in persons. This is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine of up to PKR 1 million, or both. Trafficking a woman or child is punishable by 2-10 years imprisonment and the offence is deemed ‘cognizable’ and non-bailable.

Islamabad Capital Territory

Employment of Children Act, 1991

The Employment of Children Act 1991 is enforced in Islamabad Capital Territory. The Act prohibits the employment of children under the age of fourteen set forth in Part I of the Schedule or in any workshop wherein any of the processes set forth in Part II of that Schedule in carried on.  No child is permitted to work between 7 pm to 8 am, and work overtime.The Act establishes mechanisms for labour inspection. Every occupier is required to maintain a register in respect of children employed or permitted work in the establishment.  The Act prescribes penalties for employers who violate its provisions, punishable with imprisonment for a term with may extend to one year or with a fine with may extend to twenty thousand rupees or with both.

Mines Act, 1923

Article 26 of the Mines Act prohibits child labour in mining. It unequivocally states that “No child shall be employed in a mine, or be allowed to be present in any part of a mine which is below ground.”

Factories Act, 1934

The Factories Act, 1934 is a law in Pakistan that regulates working conditions in factories. Section 50 of the Act deals with the employment of children in factories. According to the Act, no child who is under the age of 14 years can be employed in any factory. Moreover, no child between the ages of 14 and 18 years can be employed in any hazardous occupation or process, which is likely to cause injury to his or her health or physical development. The Act also lays down certain conditions for the employment of children between the ages of 14 and 18 years in factories. These include restrictions on the number of hours they can work, the types of work they can perform, and the provision of adequate safety measures. In addition, the Act requires every occupier of a factory to maintain a register of all children employed in the factory, which should contain details such as their names, ages, and nature of work.

West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Ordinance, 1969

West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969 governs the employment conditions relating to the hours and other conditions of work and employment of persons employed in shops and commercial, industrial and other establishments.  Under this law, no child below the age of 14 years is permitted to work in any establishment, except in certain circumstances where the child is working in a family-owned business or in a technical education institution as part of an approved training program. However, in these cases, the child’s employment is subject to certain conditions and restrictions, including limitations on the number of working hours and provision of adequate safeguards for the child’s health and safety. Additionally, the ordinance provides for penalties and fines for any establishment found to be employing a child in violation of the law.

The provinces and regions of Pakistan have adapted the Ordinance by making the following amendments:

  • The Punjab Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 2014, which adapted the Federal Act and replaced all mentions of ‘West Pakistan’ with ‘Punjab’;
  • The Sindh Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 2015;
  • The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shops and Establishments Act, 2015; and
  • The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Shops and Establishment (Amendment) Act, 2017

Punjab

Punjab Restriction on Employment Children Act, 2016

Punjab Restriction on Employment Children Act, 2016 prohibits the employment of children and to restrict the employment of adolescents in certain occupations and processes. A child is defined a person who has not attained the age of fifteen years whereas “adolescent” means a person who has attained the age of fifteen years but has not attained the age of eighteen years. The Act specifies that an occupier shall not employ or permit a child to work in the establishment. The Act provides a lit of 38 occupations, and the occupier shall not employ or permit an adolescent to perform any hazardous work in the establishment. Under the Act, the Government shall constitute a Committee to be called the Provincial Committee on Child Labour to advise the Government for appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the eradication of child labour.

Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Act, 2016

The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Act, 2016 is a law in the Pakistani province of Punjab that aims to prohibit the employment of children under the age of 14 years in brick kilns. The Act makes it illegal for any person to employ or permit the employment of a child at a brick kiln, or to cause or permit a child to work in any capacity at a brick kiln. The Act also provides for the inspection of brick kilns to ensure compliance with the law and for the prosecution of employers who violate the Act. The Act also provides for the rehabilitation of children who are found to have been employed in contravention of the Act, including their education and vocational training.

Punjab Domestic Workers Act, 2019

The Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 aims to protect the rights of domestic workers in the province of Punjab, including their wages, working hours, and working conditions. The Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 strictly prohibits the employment of children as domestic workers. Section 3 of the Act explicitly states that no child under the age of 15 can be employed as a domestic worker. Furthermore, a child between 15 and 18 years of age may only be employed for light work. If an employer is found to have employed a child as a domestic worker, they can face a fine of up to PKR 50,000.

Punjab Home-Based Workers Act, 2023

The Punjab Home-Based Workers Act, 2023 aims to provide protection to rights of home-based workers. Under this Act, ‘home-based worker’ means a person who performs home-based work but does not include a worker engaged in explosives, poisonous or harmful chemicals and allied substances, whereas ‘home-based work’ means the production of goods or rendering of services by a person in his or her home or other premises of his or her choice, other than the employer’s workplace, for remuneration under a written contract of employment either directly with the employer or indirectly through a contractor or intermediary. Every employer must enter into a written contract of employment with a home-based worker. Under this Act, no employer shall employ a person who has not attained the age of fifteen years as a home based worker and no employer shall also employ a person who has attained the age of fifteen years but has notattained the age of eighteen years in any employment prohibited under the Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act, 2016.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2015

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2015 aims to prohibit and regulate the employment of children and adolescent under the age of 18 in any hazardous or non-hazardous work. Under the Act, a “child” means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age and “adolescent” means a person who has completed fourteenth but has not completed his eighteenth year of age. No child is allowed to be employed or permitted to work in any establishment with the exception that a child not below the age of 12 years may be engaged in the light work, alongside his family member, for a maximum of two hours per day mainly for the purpose of acquiring skills, in a private undertaking, or in any school established, assisted or recognized by Government for such purpose. No adolescent can be employed or permitted to work in any hazardous work included in the Schedule, which lists 4 occupations and 35 processes. It also establishes a system for inspections and enforcement to ensure compliance with the law.  The law also includes penalties for employers who violate the law, including fines and imprisonment.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 2015

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 2015 aims to abolish the practice of bonded labour in the region. This legislation unequivocally abolishes the bonded labour system, granting freedom to all individuals previously subjected to its obligations. The Act strictly prohibits any form of coercion or advance associated with bonded labour, rendering null and void any customs, traditions, practices, contracts, or agreements that perpetuate this exploitative system. Furthermore, the establishment of vigilant committees at the district level, as outlined in the Act, ensures ongoing oversight and enforcement, while offenses under this law are to be tried by a 1st class magistrate.

Sindh

Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017

The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017 aims to prohibit the employment of children and to regulate employment of adolescents in certain occupations and work. Under the Act, a “child” means a person under fourteenth years of age, and “adolescent” means a person who has completed fourteenth but has not completed his eighteenth year of age. No child is permitted to work in any in any establishment, and no adolescent is allowed to work in any hazardous work included in the Schedule, which has listed 38 occupations and processes. Violations of the Act are punishable by imprisonment for a term of six months, a fine of up to PKR 50,000, or both. If a child is employed in any form of hazardous work, fines range from PKR 10,000– 100,000 and a prison term of up to three years.

Balochistan

Balochistan Employment of Children (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2021

Balochistan Employment of Children (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2021 aims to regulate and prohibit the employment of children in Balochistan province. A child is a defined as any person who has not completed  fourteenth year of age, and adolescent or young person is defined as a person who has completed fourteenth year of age but has not completed eighteenth year of age. Children below 14 years are allowed to do light work, not more than 3 hours a day, which is not likely to be harmful to children’s health and development. No person under the age of 18 years are permitted to work in any hazardous occupations and that are of the worst kind in natures, including 4 occupations and 38 processes. Child domestic labour is also listed as prohibited process under the Schedule. Under the law, the Government shall notify the Balochistan Coordination Committee on Child Labour comprises of eight members to advise government for appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the eradication of child labour as per national and international instruments.

Balochistan Forced and Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 2021

The Balochistan Forced and Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 2021 aims to abolish forced labour and the bonded labour system, thereby preventing the economic and physical exploitation of workers. This Act nullifies the bonded labor system, liberating all bonded labourers from any obligation to perform such labor. It strictly prohibits any person from providing advances or compelling others to engage in bonded or forced labor. Any customs, traditions, practices, contracts, or agreements mandating bonded labor become void and ineffective under this law, including the extinguishment of liabilities to repay bonded debt. The Act imposes penalties for employers who violate its provisions. It mandates the establishment of Vigilance Committees at the district level, comprising representatives from various sectors, to advise the government on implementing the law effectively.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition of Child Labour and Regulation of Labour at Brick Kilns Act, 2017

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition of Child Labour and Regulation of Labour at Brick Kilns Act, 2017 aims to prevent child labour and regulate labour practices at Brick Kilns whose hazardous environment can adversely affect children’s growth, health and education. It includes provisions to protect the rights and well-being of children, impose an age-restriction on the employment of children, ensure safe working conditions, and enforce penalties for violations.
 
Section 5 prohibits a person to employ, engage or permit a child under 14 years of age with the intent to work at the Brick Kiln. Additionally, Section 6 imposes liability on the Occupier of Brick Kiln if a child over 5 years of age is found on the premises during school timings, in which case the child shall be presumed to be engaged with the intent to work, until proven otherwise. Moreover, Section 9 addresses the establishment of a District Labour Committee, which shall be responsible for overseeing and implementing the regulations outlined in the Act at the district level.
 
If a child (under 14 years old) is employed, engaged or permitted to work at a brick kiln, the occupier is responsible for this contravention of the Act. In such cases, a labour inspector may close the brick kiln for up to seven days. Violations of the Act are punishable by imprisonment for a term of between seven days and six months, and a fine ranging from PKR 50,000 to PKR 500,000.
 

Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 2017

The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 2017 is a legislation that aims to prevent child labour and prohibits an agreement to pledge regarding employment of children in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It includes provisions to protect the rights and well-being of children, and enforce penalties for violations. It’s an important legislation for eradicating policies for the employment of children within Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Section 4, 5, and 6 pertains to a parent or guardian of a child, who violates the provisions of the Act by pledging the labour of their child, and the provision imposes liability on them under a Magistrate of first class as per Section 8 of the Act.
 

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Restriction on Employment of Children Act, 2019

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Restriction on Employment of Children Act, 2019 aims to prevent the employment of children in various sectors and protects children from being exploited at work in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It includes provisions to protect the rights and well-being of children, prohibit their employment in hazardous or exploitative work, and promote their education and development. It sets out regulations for the employment of children, such as minimum age requirements, working hours, and types of work that are prohibited for children. The Act serves as an essential piece of legislation that promotes the protection of children in the workforce and prioritises their well-being, education, and development.
 
Section 3(1) imposes an age restriction on the employment of children, prohibiting anyone to engage a child under 15 years of age with the intent to work. Therefore, the provision merely permits the employment of an Adolescent above 15 years of age. Section 5 limits the number of hours a child can work, which ought not to exceed 7 hours for an Adolescent accompanied with adequate breaks in order to prevent children from working overtime. Additionally, under Section 3(2) the Schedule provides a list of hazardous occupations and processes where the employment of Adolescents is prohibited, highlighting the importance of their health and safety. The Schedule prohibits acts such as working in mines, factories, construction sites, handling hazardous substances, and more. The Schedule aims to ensure the safety and well-being of Adolescents by preventing their engagement in work that could be harmful to their health or development.
 

Gilgit-Baltistan

Government of Gilgit Baltistan Order, 2018

The Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order was introduced in 2018 to give GB a more autonomous status. The Order outlines the governance structure and administrative arrangements for the GB and provides some degree of self-governance. The Order establishes a GB Legislative Assembly with the power to make laws on various issues, including education, health and local government. There are two important provisions related to child labour and education in the GB Order 2018, including, Article 11 prohibits slavery, all forms of forced labour, human trafficking and child labor in any factory, mine or any other hazardous employment, and Article 27 guarantees the right to education for children aged five to sixteen.

Gilgit-Baltistan Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2019

The Gilgit-Baltistan Prohibition of Employment of Children Act (GB-PECA) of 2019 aims to protect children from exploitation and abuse in the region. The Act defines a child as a person who has not completed 14 years of age and an adolescent as a person who has completed 14 years but not completed 18 years of age. It prohibits the employment of children in any occupation or process and the employment of adolescents in any hazardous occupation or process. The GB-PECA 2019 specifies a list of occupations and processes that are deemed hazardous for adolescents, such as mining, quarrying, blasting, cement manufacturing, glass manufacturing, leather tanning, carpet weaving, brick kiln, and domestic work. It also empowers the government to add or remove any occupation or process from the list by notification.

The Act provides for the establishment of a GB Coordination Committee on Child Labor (GB-CCCL) to advise the Government for the appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measure for eradication of child labour as per international instruments or conventions and to coordinate, approve and monitor all child labour elimination programmes in GB. It also provides for the appointment of inspectors who shall inspect workplaces and premises where children or adolescents are employed or permitted to work.

 

 

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