Government has recently passed amendments to Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Some of the important provisions are as follows:
1. Prohibition against employment of children below 14 years of age.
Parliament has retained some exceptions. These exceptions include: (i) helping family and a family enterprise which are not hazardous occupations, after school hours or during vacations, and (ii) working in the audiovisual entertainment industry (films, TV, etc.) or sports activities.
2. Prohibition against employing Children between 14 to 18 years of age in hazardous occupations and processes. This has not been addressed.
Central government may specify kinds of non-hazardous occupations and processes in which adolescents may be employed.
3. Regulating conditions of work : Appropriate government may make rules in this regard (eg. number of hours for which adolescents may work, how establishments employing adolescents must maintain registers, etc.)
4. Penalties: Parents or guardians of children/ adolescents will not be liable for punishment in case of first offence. Parents or guardians of children/ adolescents will punishable with a fine up to Rs. 10,000 for subsequent offence.
Only certain offences by employers will be cognizable: (i) employing children, and (ii) employing adolescents in hazardous occupations/ processes.
Certain additional provisions have been added for: (i) compounding of certain first time offences by employers (like violating health and safety standards), (ii) compounding of any offence by parents/ guardians, (iii) empowering appropriate government to make rules for compounding of offences, etc.
5. Rehabilitation of rescued children and adolescents : Child and Adolescent Labour Rehabilitation Fund will be constituted at the district level. Fines from employers and Rs. 15,000 from the appropriate government for each child/ adolescent rescued will be credited into the Fund. Appropriate government may frame rules regulating manner of paying rescued children/ adolescents from the Fund.