Under-14 children can’t be employed at work: Cabinet

Children below 14 years can’t be engaged in any work in Bangladesh as the Cabinet on Monday cleared a proposal for ratifying the ILO Convention-138.

Though the minimum age for admission to any type of employment or work should be 15 years in the member countries, a member whose economy and education facilities are insufficiently developed may initially specify a minimum age of 14 years as per the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention.

The proposal was approved at the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who joined it virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.

Ministers and officials concerned attended the meeting from the Cabinet Division at the Bangladesh Secretariat.

“Considering the socio-economic condition of any country, the age limit can be reduced to 14 years for the children, but not less than it. The Cabinet thinks that 14 years age limit is suitable for Bangladesh,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told reporters after the meeting.

He said ‌the ILO Convention-138 carries special significance as 173 out of 189 countries across the world have endorsed it.

“Generally 15 years are required to complete the basic education. So, no child under the age of 15 can be employed,” said Anwarul Islam.

He, however, said children, whether they may be 14 or 15 years old, cannot be engaged in any risky or dangerous work under any circumstances.

“Children cannot be engaged in activities that could lead to accidents or deaths…Even if children of this age are employed, they cannot be treated as an adult,” said the cabinet secretary.

In reply to a question if someone employs a child under the age of 14 or 15 what would be the punishment, he said it would be done according to the Labour Law.

Besides, the Cabinet approved the draft of Export Policy 2021-2024 brought by the Ministry of Commerce. Normally, the government adopts an export policy after every three years.

Anwarul said the policy has been given approval to cope up with the upcoming challenges that may emerge after the graduation of the country from the LDCs.

“Product diversification and identifying priority products, expansion of export industry, importance of labour-based export industry, skilled development, making trade and investment easier and adaptation of comprehensive policy as well have been given special focus in the export policy,” he said.

He said special importance has been given particularly to the country’s graduation, 4IR, three year grace period in the EU market after the graduation, and economic diplomacy.

The Cabinet also in principle approved the draft of Bangabandhu Public University Naogaon Act, 2022 and the draft of Thakurgaon University Act, 2022.

With these two new institutes, the cabinet secretary said, the number of public universities will increase to 52. The country now has 108 private universities.

The Cabinet meeting endorsed the draft of BIMSTEC Certificate as it needs to be signed before the 5th BIMSTEC Conference is scheduled to be held on March 30 next in Sri Lanka, said Anwarul.

He said the move came to pave the way for creating a free-trade region among the BIMSTEC member countries alongside the communication development for transportation of goods.

Source: United News of Bangladesh