New laws to increase minimum age of employment


The Government has paid attention to introducing new laws to increase the minimum age of employment from 16 years to 18 years.

This decision has been taken considering the recent incidents reported in the country of abusing and exploiting children who were employed as domestic workers.

National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) Chairman, Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana said an Amendment would be brought to the Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act of 1956 in a bid to prevent employment of children under 18 years, especially as domestic workers.

He said the relevant Amendment Bill would be drafted by the NCPA together with the Labour Department. He added that the Government hopes to present the Amendment in Parliament within two months.

The Chairman further said that it has been proposed to increase the jobs coming under hazardous category from 52 to 76 with the aim of preventing children from being employed in such risky jobs.

The Government earlier this year increased the minimum age of employment from 14 to 16 years by amending the same Act. Under that Amendment, the definition of a ‘young person’ was amended to be a person who has attained the age of 16, but is under the age of 18.

To facilitate that revision, the Shop and Office Employees (Regulation of Employment and Remuneration) Act of 1954, Factories Ordinance (Chapter 128) of 1942 and Minimum Wages (Indian Labour) Ordinance of 1947 were also amended. This law has an exception that a child under 16 years is not prevented from getting involved in agri-business activities or in any business activity organized for educational or charitable purposes provided that such partaking is done only before or after the commencement of school.