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Is child labour legal in Kenya? What do the laws say about Child Labour in Kenya? Find out information about child labour laws, child labour facts, effects and pay

Who is a child?

The law under the Employment Act, 2007, and the Children Act, defines a child in Kenya as a person below the age of 18 years. The Employment Act, Part VII provides for protection of children including protection from the worst forms of child labour.

What is the minimum age for admission to employment?

Section 56 prohibits employing a child below 13 years in any form of undertaking. However it allows employment of children from the ages of 13 to16 years for light work, and defines those of 16 to 18 as employable. The Act does not clearly define the parameters for this employment. It does not define light work and does not provide protection for children in such employment, but leaves it to the discretion of the minister.

In section 58 and 59, the minimum age for employment in an industrial undertaking is 16, unless he/she is an apprentice under the Industrial Training Act (Cap. 237, Laws of Kenya). The law also puts a time limit for a child in an industrial undertaking to between 6.30am to 6.30pm.

This minimum age restriction does not apply to employees who belong to the same family as the employer – unless the undertaking is dangerous to the life, health or morals of the persons employed. There is no legal minimum working age in the agricultural and services sectors, or for domestic work

Is there a record of children in the workplace?

Section 60 compels a child’s employer to have a register consisting age and date of birth, date of entry into and of leaving the employment and, such other particulars as may be prescribed.

What is child labour?

Child labour is defined as any situation where a child provides labour in exchange for payment including:

  • Where a child’s labour is used for gain by any individual or institution whether or not the child benefits directly or indirectly.
  • Where a child provides labour as an assistant to another person and his/her labour is deemed to be the labour of that other person for the purposes of payment.
  • Where there is a written contract of service and the employee is a child.

How are children protected from child labour?

The law provides for protection from child labour and armed conflict under The Children Act, No. 8 of 2001. Section 10, provides that every child shall be protected from:

  • Economic exploitation.
  • Any work that interferes with his/ her education, or is harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
  • Recruitment to hostilities armed conflicts, and where armed conflict occurs.

To whom/where can individuals complain about child labour?

In case a person considers any child to be employed in any activity which constitutes the worst form of child labour, section 54 of the Employment Act provides for complaints and directs them to the labour officer or a police officer of the rank of an inspector and above. The labour officer or a police officer will then carry out an investigation within seven days of reporting and submit the findings to the minister.

Which legal sanctions can be applied if compliance is lacking?

Section 64 declares an offence for any person who employs, engages, or uses a child in an industrial undertaking in contravention of the provisions of part VII of the Employment Act. Such a person will be liable to a fine not exceeding KES 200,000 or to an imprisonment of not more than one year or both.

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