Bolivia Legalizes Child Labor as Young as 10 Years Old

Bolivian congress passes laws that allow 12-year-old children to be employed in full-time work for others, with 10-year-olds permitted to work if self-employed
Bolivian congress passes laws that allow 12-year-old children to be employed in full-time work for others, with 10-year-olds permitted to work if self-employed

While the U.S. continues to struggle with controversial child labor practices (most recently, the harmful effects of youth working on tobacco farms were extensively reported by Human Rights Watch), developing nations give parents here a dubious sense of relief that at least their children aren’t growing up somewhere with even more lax regulations.  Last week, for example, Bolivia’s Congress passed a law allowing children as young as 10 years old to work – and long as their employment doesn’t conflict with their education and is done “independently” to help support the child’s family. In other words, that child would technically have to be “self-employed” and go to work as a voluntary decision with consent from the parent or guardian.

At age 12, under the code, children may begin working full-time for others.

Carmen Moreno, and official with the U.N. International Labor Organization, says the legislation passed this week makes Bolivia the first country in the world to legally sanction work by 10-year-olds.

Moreno said the legislation was troubling since Bolivia is a signatory a U.N. convention that sets 14 as the minimum age for child labor.

The Bolivian legislation is expected to be signed into law in coming weeks by President Evo Morales.

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Emery Reddy