The Centre on Tuesday decided to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, to put a blanket ban on the employment of children below 14 years in all industries - hazardous or non-hazardous.
The meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved Labour Ministry’s proposal to make employment of children below the age of 14 a cognisable offence and enhanced the punishment for offences under the Act. Sources in the Labour and Employment Ministry said that the amendments would ensure that all children are compulsorily admitted in schools as per the mandate of the Right to Education Act, 2009, instead of being employed at workplaces. At present, children under the age of 14 are prohibited from employment only in hazardous industries.
As per the proposal of the Labour Ministry, maximum punishment for offences under the Act has been increased from one year to two years imprisonment and the fine has been increased from `20,000 to `50,000. For repeated offences, punishment has been raised to a three-year jail term.
The overall responsibility for implementation of the Act shall be vested with the district magistrate and the monitoring and inspection is to be done by the labour department of the concerned state Sources said that the amendment would also enable India to ratify ILO Convention 138 (minimum age for entering employment) and Convention 182 (prohibition of employment for persons below 18 years in hazardous occupations).