Glossary of Terms

Who is a child?. According to the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child and ILO’s 1999 convention number 182 on the “Worst Forms of Child Labour” any person under the age of 18 is considered as a child.

ILO is taking the age range of 5-18 as basis for their research. The reason for this is children who are under the age of 5 are considered as too young to work or to go to school.

The age ranges are determined in 2 ways in ILO’s works. When calculations are made for children engagaed in economic activities 5-9, 10-14 and 15-17 age groups are used. For child labour and the worst forms 5-11 and 12-14 are used. The reason is to make the calculations compatible to the ILO’s convention number 138 which is on the “minimum age’.

Work, is defined with “Economic Activity’ used for National Income Accounts. Economic Activity grasps all paid and unpaid work done in the market. It also covers work done for personal consumption and usage without getting paid. Therefore, paid or unpaid, formal or informal, rural or urban it contains all work done. For example, a child working within the family where production occurs for selling goods in the market or a child working as a domestic servant no matter getting paid or not is accepted as economically active, where as a child helping her mum with the daily house work is not admitted as economically active.

Child labour; ILO does not classify all activities done by children as child labour. While making assesements and calculations ILO draws a thin line in between the child labour to be abolished and activities done by children which are acceptable and known to be not harming them.Also a firm line is drawn in between the worst forms of child labour and ordinary child workers.

ILO’s definition of “Child Labour’ depends on the Convention number 138 that is on “Minimum Wage’. Accordig to this convention children working who did not complete their compulsory education and are under the age of 15 are accepted as child labourers. Although some countries might make new legislations which permit children in between the ages of 13-15 to work where work can be defined as “Light Work’ which does not affect children’s school attendance and which does not harm the menthal, physical and social well being of them.

In general according to Convention number 138;

-Completion of the compulsory education and 15 years of age is the border line.

-For Light Work the minimum age is 13.

-For Hazardous Work the minimum age is 18.

Discreetly for underdeveloped countries

-14 years of age is the minimum

-For light work the minimum age can be 12.

Light Work’, is a concept which is hard to define. According to the Convention number 138 paragraph 7, work which does not keep the child away from school and which does not harm the physical, social and menthal growth and progress of the child is considered as light work. ILO takes work which is less 14 hours a week and which is not hazardous for children aged between 12-14 as light work while assessing child labour.

Children completed their compulsory education aged between 15-17 can work at “Regular Jobs’, These jobs are not hazardous by their nature. Although if hours worked per week exceeds 43 they are also considered as hazardous and admitted as child labour.

Hazardous Work’, is work which by its nature harms the physical and menthal well being of the children. Also regular work which is more than 43 hours per week is also considered as hazardous work. Therefore children who are ovewr the age of 15 that are working more than 43 hours a week are also fall under the category of child labour. These are one of “The Worst Forms of Child labour’

According to ILO the criteria for “Hazardous Work’ are as follows;

-Work where children are physically, menthally or sexually abused.

-Work under ground, under water, over certain heights and work that are prohibited

-Working with dangerous machines and carrying heavy loads

-Working under unhealthy conditions, working with dangerous substances and

working under heat, noise and vibration.

-Working under hard conditions for long hours or working under the strict rules

determined by the employer.

Worst Forms of Child Labour’, is defined as below by the Convention number 182 of ILO:

  • All forms of slavery and trafficking of children, debt bondage, forced labour, arming of children and child soldiers.

  • Prostitiution, commercial sexual exploitation of children, pornography and related activities

  • Illicit activities, like drug smuggling

Child Trafficking’, The most authoritative definition of trafficking under International Law to date is spelled out in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.18 According to this instrument, child trafficking can be defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a girl or boy of less than 18 year of age for the purpose of exploitation.”

Forced labour’ is defined in Article 2 (1) of the ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No.

29): “The term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntary”. Forced child labour can be distinguished from other forms of child labour through the presence of one or more of the following elements:

-a restriction of the freedom to move;

-a degree of control over the child going beyond the normal exertion of lawful authrty.

-physical or mental violence

-absence of informed consent.

Bonded labour “is a form of forced labour in which the element of coercion flows from a debt incurred by the worker. Debt bondage is the status or condition arising from a

pledge by a debtor of his personal services or those of a person under his control as security

for a debt, if the value of those services, as reasonably assessed, is not applied towards the

liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited

and defined.

Child soldier’ is defined as a child in armed conflict any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including

cooks, porters, messengers, and those accompanying such groups, other than purely as

family members. It includes children recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children’, a concept largely synonymous with child prostitution and pornography is the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any form of consideration”, whereas child pornography means any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes.

Here the important fact is that these children are forced to become involved in such activities without their consent. Most of the children trafficked fall into this trap and this is a growing problem globally.

Children in “illicit activities’, focuses on children involved in the production and trafficking of drugs, petty crimes such as small thefts,

With regard to the information above tables below can be obtained using ILO-IPEC data.

Table * Forms Of Work and Work accepted as child labour

Age Groups

Forms of Work

Non-Hazardous Work

(Non-Hazardous sectors less than 43 hours a week)

Worst Forms of Child Labour

Light Work

(Less than 14 hours a week)

Regular Work

(Between 14 and 43 hours a week)

Hazardous Work

(Dangerous sectors or regular work more than 43 hours per week)

Unconditional Worst Forms

(Trafficking, Forced and bonded labour,child soldiers, prostitiution, pornography and illicit activities)




The shadowed areas are considered as child labour in need of elimination as per ILO Conventions No. 138 and 182.

-For children aged between 5-11 even light work is considered as child labour.

– For children aged between 12-14 only work considered as light or regular which is not considered as dangerous can be accepted only if it is less than 14 hours a week. This type of work does not effect school attendance and is not harmful for the physical and menthal well being of the children. Though if it over 14 hours a week it still falls under the child labour category.

-For children aged between 15-17, regular work up to 43 hours a week is permitted considering that they are over the minimum age and completed their compulsory education. Though even if these children work in regular jobs if the duration is more than 43 hours a week it still falls under the category of child labour to be abolished and considered as one of the worst forms of child labour.

-For all age groups “Worst Forms of Child Labour’ is unacceptable and these are child labour to be abolished immediately.