Labour inspection

IPEC works to build the capacities of labour inspectorates Note 1 and other enforcement agencies to take action against child labour, especially in respect of hazardous child labour and child labour monitoring. Labour inspectors have traditionally been key partners in eliminating child labour. Today, their role takes on added dimensions and importance with the introduction of new legal instruments such as ILO Convention 182 on Worst forms of child labour.

To tackle hazardous child labour inspectors can give information on hazardous child labour to employers and workers including advice on how to eliminate it. They can also use their legal enforcement powers in the workplace to ensure that:

(i) children are withdrawn from workplaces where hazardous work is taking place, and referred to appropriate authorities who can then get them into school or skills training

(ii) the health and safety of children who have reached the minimum legal age to work (14-17 years of age depending on the country) is fully protected in the workplace. Protection can be ensured through a combination of general improvements in workplace health and safety conditions and avoidance of children carrying out hazardous tasks.

Labour inspection and child labour monitoring

Child labour monitoring (CLM) is an evolving area of child labour work closely linked to the enforcement of national child labour legislation. The task of CLM is to mobilize and train community members to monitor child labour and link the monitoring activity to local government and official enforcement systems, especially labour inspection, so that the information on child labour can be used effectively. The monitors must be given a clear mandate and the authority necessary to fulfil their duties although most of their role involves changing attitudes rather than enforcing laws.

CLM involves the development of a coordinated multi-sector monitoring and referral process that aims to cover all children living in a given geographical area. Its principal activities include regularly repeated direct observations to identify child labourers and to determine risks to which they are exposed, referral of these children to services, verification that they have been removed and tracking them afterwards to ensure that they have satisfactory

Community-based child labour monitoring committees are typically composed of community leaders, teachers, health promoters, representatives from the families concerned and sometimes with children or adolescents withdrawn from work. They carry out monitoring visits to workplaces. These visits are conducted on a regular basis and often in conjunction with official visits by labour inspectors.

Note 1: To provide advice to both employers and workers, to administer social and labour policy, and to supervise and enforce labour legislation and standards, effective national systems of labour inspection are required. Labour inspection is a public function, a responsibility of government, best organised as a system, within the context of a larger state system, and in line with the ILO Conventions on Labour Inspection, 1947 (No. 81), and Labour Inspection (Agriculture), 1969 (No. 129).