Government has warned that it will take strong action against those who make use of child labour.
According to the Department of Labour, child labour is when children work before they reach the age of 15 or complete Grade 9.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 15 years, while the South African Schools Act prohibits children from becoming involved in economic work before they reach the age of 15 or complete Grade 9, whichever happens first.
The department has warned that those who do not respect these laws will face harsh penalties. “It is a criminal offence to employ a child and the offence carries a maximum of six years of imprisonment in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Act, 2013,” said the department.
In most cases child labour involves work that is exploitative, inappropriate for the child’s age, can disrupt the child’s schooling, dangerous to the child’s social, physical, mental, spiritual or growth and development.
According to the 2010 Survey on the Activities of Young People 10.8 million children aged between seven and 17 in South Africa were involved in economic activities. Just over 24.2 per cent of the children were involved in activities within the trade industry.
The most common economic work done by children occurred in subsistence agriculture, the wholesale and retail sector, farm work, manufacturing and construction and domestic work.