THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE “LIGHT WORK” PROVISION OF CONVENTION NO. 138
Keywords:child work, light work
The Minimum Age Convention no. 138 of 1973 in Article 7 provides that children between the ages of 13 and 15 years may be permitted to undertake a permissible form of child work, namely: light work. Such work should not prejudice the education, health or the general wellbeing of the child. Article 7 does not, however, define or clarify what actually qualifies as light work. The light work provision also seems incompatible with the realities of many developing countries and the values prioritized in different cultures as it seems to place an unnecessarily strict prohibition of work by children below the age of 13 years. Although there seems to be confusion regarding this concept the light work provision is best understood in its historical context. The light work provision first appeared in the Minimum Age (Agricultural) Convention no. 10 of 1921 and was further developed in the Minimum Age (Industry) Convention no. 33 of 1932. Convention no. 138 thereafter revised such conventions with a less detailed description of the concept causing confusion and uncertainty about permissible forms of child work.
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