Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Hungary

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Hungary, 29 April 2004, available at: [accessed 21 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Hungary is working with IOM and partner agencies to implement a trafficking prevention program in schools.[2139] Through consultations with NGOs, the government has also provided anti-trafficking sensitization training to police, border guards, and consular officials.[2140] In 2003, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in conjunction with the Government of Hungary, established a shelter for unaccompanied minors in order to prevent them from being recruited by traffickers.[2141] In December 2002, the government signed a joint declaration with other Southeastern European nations to better assist trafficking victims.[2142] In 2000, the government approved a National Plan of Action against the commercial sexual abuse of children.[2143]

According to the Ministry of Education, current education reform objectives include the provision of aid to underprivileged students or school districts through textbook subsidies, transportation aid, and increased access to vocational training.[2144] In 1999, an Office of the Ministerial Ombudsman for Education Affairs was established to respond to problems related to accessing education, and to address concerns submitted by parents, administrators, teachers, or students.[2145] The Government of Hungary provides subsidies to local school districts to support education for Roma children through remedial classes and courses on Roma culture. In practice, however, this effort is hampered by a lack of adequate financial monitoring, and the fact that the separated, remedial classes have reportedly resulted in institutional segregation of the Roma population.[2146]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Hungary are unavailable.[2147] There is little evidence of child labor in the formal sector, although occasional violations of child labor regulations, such as utilizing overtime or in-kind payment schemes, have been reported.[2148] Children work as beggars in urban areas,[2149] and also as prostitutes, according to Budapest Police, although the scope of the problem is unknown.[2150] Hungary is primarily a transit country, but also a source and destination country, for trafficking in persons, including children. Trafficking in persons occurs from Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Russia, and the Balkans to and through Hungary to Western Europe and the United States for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.[2151]

The Education Act establishes 10 years of compulsory education, ending at the age of 16.[2152] Primary education is free, according to the Constitution.[2153] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 102.0 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 90.2 percent.[2154] Attendance rates are not available for Hungary. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[2155] Schools in ethnic Roma communities are in markedly poorer condition,[2156] and according to UNICEF, less than 2 percent of Roma children graduate from secondary school.[2157]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code of 1992 states that children may only be employed when they have finished their compulsory education, which effectively sets the minimum age for work at 16 years.[2158] However, children who are at least 14 years old are permitted to work if the work does not interfere with schooling or if they are exempt from attending school.[2159] All children under age 16 must obtain the consent of a legal guardian before entering into an employment contract.[2160] The Labor Code specifically prohibits children under the age of 18 from working in jobs that may be detrimental to their physical well-being or development, in night work, or in overtime work.[2161] Forced labor is prohibited by law.[2162] The 1999 Act of Offenses prohibits persuading or soliciting another to engage in prostitution is illegal, and working in a brothel under the age of 18. The punishment is two to eight years imprisonment.[2163] The Criminal Code prohibits trafficking, as well as preparation for trafficking of persons,[2164] and has provisions against kidnapping and violations of personal freedom and smuggling of persons.[2165]

The National Work Safety and Labor Affairs Supervision Office (OMMF) has 20 county and local offices to enforce the labor code, including provisions related to child labor. OMMF inspectors respond to complaints and conduct random spot checks to ensure that employers adhere to labor regulations. Complex labor violations may be presented to the labor courts. Violations of labor regulations are misdemeanors punishable by a fine ranging from approximately USD 160 to 9,000. Child labor laws are reported to be enforced.[2166] The Criminal Code establishes a punishment for trafficking violations of up to 10 years imprisonment when minors are involved.[2167] In 2002, the Hungarian Ministry of Interior and Office of Interpol reported 34 arrests in trafficking cases, and prosecutors brought legal proceedings in 30 cases. However, there continue to be reported incidents of border guard staking bribes to allow unregulated entries into the country.[2168]

The Government of Hungary ratified ILO Convention 138 on May 28, 1998 and ILO Convention 182 on April 20, 2000.[2169]

[2139] IOM, IOM Press Briefing Notes, November 5, 2002, 2002 [cited June 25, 2003]; available from See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Hungary, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2003; available from

[2140] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: Hungary.

[2141] U.S. Embassy-Budapest, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 19, 2004.

[2142] Alban Bala, Southeastern Europe: Governments Shift Their Focus In Fighting Human Trafficking, Radio Free Europe: Radio Liberty, [online] December 13, 2002 [cited July 2, 2003]; available from The Government of Hungary is a member of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, and has participated in regional anti-trafficking efforts through the initiative's Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime. See SECI Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime, SECI States, [online] December 12, 2003 [cited January 6, 2004]; available from See also SECI Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime, Operation Mirage: Evaluation Report, Bucharest, January 21, 2003; available from

[2143] In 2000, UNICEF conducted a mapping of agencies and programs that address commercial sexual exploitation of children. This was followed by a national seminar on the subject in September 2001. See UNICEF, UNICEF in Action: Hungary, 2003 [cited June 25, 2003]; available from

[2144] Government of Hungary, Education, 2003 [cited June 25, 2003]; available from

[2145] U.S. Embassy-Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 3455, September 2000.

[2146] World Bank, Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle, Washington, D.C., July 1, 2003, 102-03.

[2147] Hungary does not collect labor force statistics for children under the age of 15. See ILO, Laborstat Database of Labor Statistics, [database online] 2003 [cited August 27, 2003]; available from

[2148] U.S. Embassy-Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 3455.

[2149] Ibid.

[2150] U.S. Embassy-Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 1920, March 1998.

[2151] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: Hungary. See also U.S. Embassy-Budapest, electronic communication.

[2152] UNESCO, World Data on Education: Hungary, [online] April 2002 [cited June 25, 2003]; available from

[2153] Constitution of the Republic of Hungary, (1949), Article 70F, [cited June 25, 2003]; available from

[2154] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003. For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definitions of gross primary enrollment rate and gross primary attendance rate in the glossary of this report.

[2155] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[2156] U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Hungary, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 5; available from

[2157] UNICEF, UNICEF in Action: Hungary.

[2158] Government of Hungary, Hungary Labour Code, Act No. 22 of 1992, Part III, 1992, Section 72, [cited June 25, 2003]; available from

[2159] Ibid., Section 72(4).

[2160] Ibid., Section 72(2).

[2161] Ibid., Sections 75 and 121.

[2162] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Hungary, Section 6c.

[2163] Act of Offenses (Act LXIX of 1999); available from

[2164] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Hungary, Section 6f.

[2165] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1993, Addendum: Hungary, CRC/C/8/Add.34, prepared by Government of Hungary, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1996, para. 103.

[2166] U.S. Embassy-Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 3455.

[2167] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Hungary, Section 6f.

[2168] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: Hungary, 59. The Police Organized Crime Task Force investigated trafficking cases that involved organized crime. In 2002, the Ministry of Interior conducted two investigations that included 65 border guards who received bribes to allow foreigners to enter the country without inspecting their travel documents. Twelve were charged with corruption. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Hungary, Section 6f.

[2169] ILO, Ratifications by Country, ILOLEX, [database online] [cited June 25, 2003]; available from

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