Welcome to our forum today as we continue to share the diverse knowledge relating to the labour laws and practice. In the previous article we discussed about the importance of knowing labour laws for an employer. Today, we are going to look to one of the rule that employer is duty bound to follow, thus rule against child employment.
Who is a child?
The definition of child depends on the particular law that a person need to apply. The Constitution of the URT of 1977 as amended, the law of Child Act of 2009 and the Employment and Labour Relations Act of 2004 defines who is a child.
Article 5 (1) of the URT Constitution of 1977 as amended provides for the Franchise ie persons who have attained the age of adult and able to vote
‘Every citizen of the United Republic who attained the age of eighteen years is entitled to vote in any public election held in Tanzania. This right shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of sub-article (2), and of the other provisions of this Constitution and the law for the time being in force in Tanzania in relation to public elections’
Therefore, since any person who has attained the age of 18 years is considered an adult, then it follows any person below the age of 18 years is considered a child.
Again, the Law of Child Act of 2009 defines who is a child as per Section 4(1)
‘ A person below the age of eighteen years shall be known as a child’
However, in the labour law context the term child has broader meaning depending on the application of the law.
Section 4 of the ELRA defines a child to mean
‘a person under the age of 14 years; provided that for the employment in hazardous sectors, child means a person under the age of 18 years;
Therefore, it is important for an employer to understand the definition context of a child under employment relationship so as to adhere to the guiding rules regarding employment of a child.
Rule against child employment
The ELRA under Section 5 (1) prohibit any employer to employ a child under the age of 14 years. The rule provides;
‘No person shall employ a child under the age of fourteen years.’
This is an absolute prohibition against employment of children under the age of 14 years without exception.
However, Section 5 (2) of the ELRA gives an exception to the rule against child employment to the effect that a child of 14 years can be employed to perform some light tasks
‘A child of fourteen years of age may only be employed to do light work, which is not likely to be harmful to the child’s health and development; and does not prejudice the child’s attendance at school, participation in vocational orientation or training programmes approved by the competent authority or the child’s capacity to benefit from the instruction received.’
Moreover, a child under 18 years of age is prohibited to be employed under hazardous conditions as per Section 5(3) of the ELRA which provides;
‘A child under eighteen years of age shall not be employed in a mine, factory or as crew on a ship or in any other worksite including non-formal settings and agriculture, where work conditions may be considered hazardous by the Minister.’
Therefore from this rule against child employment, we can be able to understand the following;
- Employers are prohibited to employ any person below the age of 14 years
- Employers are allowed to employ children of 14 years only in light works
- Employers are prohibited to employ children below 18 years under hazardous conditions.
From the foregoing analysis, the employers must be in a position to make a proper decision on who to employ and under what conditions. Also employer must ascertain the age of potential employee before making any arrangement of employment.
Please keep in touch with our Forum as we are going to look on the hazardous conditions that children below 18 years are prohibited to be employed.
Isaack Zake, Advocate
Director of Legal and Public Relations – TAACIME
Isaack Zake an Advocate of the High Court of Tanzania, he is passionate in pursuing matters in relation to labour and Human Resource Management and has been labour lawyer practitioner at various areas of practice such as FIBUCA Trade Union, Commission for Mediation and Arbitration, Labour Court of Tanzania and Labour Office at the Ministry of the Labour Affairs. Mr. Isaack is also a founder of www.ulizasheria.co.tz
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