Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Barbados

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 7 June 2002
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Barbados, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
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

Both the Government of Barbados and labor unions have expressed public opposition to all forms of child labor in the country and abroad.[155] The government is working closely with the Barbados Worker's Union (BWU) to prevent child labor within Barbados and regionally.[156] In May 1998, the Government of Barbados called for a ban on imports from countries where child labor was utilized in the production process.[157] Despite the high rates of school participation, the government and the World Bank are collaborating to address deficiencies in the education system, including inadequate school infrastructure and staff training, and a lack of supplies.[158]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Barbados are unavailable. Information on child labor practices is also limited, and, according to available sources, no cases of abusive child labor have been reported.[159]

Education is free of charge and compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16, and attendance is strictly enforced.[160] In 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 101.3 percent.[161] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Barbados. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[162]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

According to the Miscellaneous Provisions of the Employment Act, 16 years is the minimum age for all employment during school hours, and the minimum age for industrial undertakings or work on ships.[163] Children under 18 are prohibited from engaging in hazardous work, and are guaranteed a 13-hour rest period between two work periods.[164] The Act also stipulates that 18 is the minimum age for night work, unless the work is for an apprenticeship or vocational training, and has been authorized by the Minister of Labor.[165] The Police Force and the Department of Labor have jurisdiction over the monitoring and enforcement of child labor legislation,[166] and labor inspectors conduct spot checks of businesses and check records to verify compliance with the law.[167] The Constitution prohibits forced labor,[168] and although trafficking is not specifically prohibited by law, the Criminal Code prohibits procurement of a minor less than 16 years of age.[169] Barbados ratified ILO Convention 138 on January 4, 2000 and ILO Convention 182 on October 23, 2000.[170]

[155] U.S. Embassy-Bridgetown, unclassified telegram no. 1782, September 2001 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 1782], and U.S. Embassy-Bridgetown, unclassified telegram no. 1511, May 1997.

[156] The Barbados Workers' Union (BWU) was a prime actor behind the 1999 ILO Caribbean Tripartite Meeting on the worst forms of child labor, at which the General Secretary advocated the development of a regional position on child labor. The BWU is led by General Secretary Leroy Trotman, who is a member of the ILO Governing Body. At the meeting, Mr. Trotman stressed that in order to prevent the growth of child labor in the Caribbean region, countries should guarantee access to education and job preparation and enhance the political leverage of ministries of labor. See unclassified telegram 1782.

[157] Unclassified telegram 1782.

[158] World Bank, Barbados Human Resources Project: Secondary Education [hereinafter Barbados Human Resources Project], at on 12/11/01.

[159] There are no reports of children working in any sector of the economy, nor are there reports of forced or bonded labor, prostitution, or trafficking. There are no statistics available on the number of economically active children. See World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [hereinafter World Development Indicators 2001] [CD-ROM].

[160] School attendance officers and parents can be fined or imprisoned (for no more than 3 months) for failure to enforce attendance. See unclassified telegram no. 1782. See also UNESCO, The Education for All (EFA) 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Barbados [hereinafter EFA 2000 Assessment], at, and Barbados Human Resources Project.

[161] UNESCO, Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment (Paris, 2000) [CD-ROM]. Also, in 1991, gross primary school enrollment was 90.4 percent, and net primary school attendance was 77.9 percent. See World Development Indicators 2001.

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

[163] Employment Act [hereinafter Employment Act], Sections 9, 14 (1), (2), as cited in unclassified telegram 1782.

[164] Ibid. at Sections 8 (1), (3).

[165] Ibid. at Sections 8 (1), (2).

[166] Police have the authority to enter any business under suspicion of using child laborers in order to inspect the facilities. The penalty for violating child labor legislation is imprisonment for up to 12 months or a fine of up to USD 1,000. See unclassified telegram 1782.

[167] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Barbados (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001), Section 6d, at

[168] Constitution of Barbados, Chapter III, Article 14, at on 10/16/01.

[169] Human Rights Report on Trafficking of Women and Children, Barbados, The Protection Project Database, at

[170] ILOLEX database: Barbados at

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