The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, defines child labor and lays down rules for regulating it. According to the Act:
- Child Labor Prohibition: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in certain occupations and processes. These occupations and processes are specified by the law and are considered hazardous to the health and development of children.
- Regulation of Adolescent Labor: The Act allows adolescents (children aged 14 to 18 years) to work in non-hazardous occupations and processes. However, it imposes restrictions on the working hours and conditions for adolescents to ensure their safety and well-being.
- Conditions for Employment: When adolescents are employed, certain conditions must be met, including adequate working hours, periodic medical examinations, and provisions for their education.
- Prohibition of Work in Certain Occupations: The Act prohibits the employment of children in specific occupations and processes such as domestic work, bidi-making, carpet weaving, and more. These occupations are considered harmful to the physical and mental development of children.
- Penalties: The Act prescribes penalties for employers who engage children in prohibited occupations or processes. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment.
- Right to Education: The Act is in line with the Right to Education Act, 2009, which guarantees free and compulsory education to children up to the age of 14 years. It aims to prevent child labor by ensuring that children have access to quality education.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, seeks to eliminate exploitative child labor while also recognizing the need to regulate and protect the rights of adolescents who may engage in employment. It is an essential legal framework in India for addressing child labor issues and promoting the welfare of children.