The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 was enacted to prohibit the engagement of children below the age of fourteen years in factories, mines and hazardous employments and to regulate their conditions of work in certain other employments. According to the Act, no child shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the occupations set forth in Part A of the Schedule or in any workshop wherein any of the processes set forth in Part B of the Schedule is carried on, provided that nothing in this Act shall apply to any workshop wherein any process is carried on by the occupier with the aid of his family or to any school established by, or receiving assistance or recognition from the Government. Also, the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, constitute ‘the Child Labour Technical Advisory Committee’ to advise the Central Government for the purpose of additions of occupations and processes to the Schedule of the Act.
The Central Industrial Relation Machinery (CIRM) in the Ministry of Labour is responsible for enforcing this Act. CIRM is an attached office of the Ministry and is also known as the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) [CLC(C)] Organisation. The CIRM is headed by the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central). In addition, a Central Advisory Board on Child Labour has also been constituted under the Ministry to review the implementation of the existing legislations and suggest measures for welfare of working children.
The main provisions of the Act are:-
- No child shall be required or permitted to work in any establishment in excess of such number of hours, as may be prescribed for such establishment or class of establishments. The period of work on each day shall be so fixed that no period shall exceed three hours and that no child shall work for more than three hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least one hour.
- No child shall be required or permitted to work overtime. No child shall be required or permitted to work in, any establishment on any day on which he has already been working in another establishment.
- Every child employed in an establishment shall be allowed in each week, a holiday of one whole day, which day shall be specified by the occupier in a notice permanently exhibited in a conspicuous place in the establishment and the day so specified shall not be altered by the occupier more than once in three months.
- Every occupier shall maintain, in respect of children employed or permitted to work in any establishment, a register to be available for inspection by an Inspector at all times during working hours or when work is being carried on in any such establishment showing:- (i) the name and date of birth of every child so employed or permitted to work; (ii) hours and periods of work of any such child and the intervals of rest to which he is entitled; (iii) the nature of work of any such child; and (iv) such other particulars as may be prescribed.
- The appropriate Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, make rules for the health and safety of the children employed or permitted to work in any establishment or class of establishments.
- Whoever employs any child or permits any child to work in contravention of the provisions of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment or with fine or with both.
- Any person, police officer or inspector may file a complaint of the commission of an offence under this Act in any Court of competent jurisdiction. No Court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class shall try any offence under this Act.