Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Jordan

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Jordan, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 29 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years:
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:96.7
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:89.6
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:94.7
ILO Convention 138:3/23/1998
ILO Convention 182:4/20/2000
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

According to the Jordanian Department of Statistics, in 2008, children in Jordan – mostly males – worked in mechanical repair, agriculture and fishing, construction, and hotels and restaurants. Children also work in the informal sector as street vendors, carpenters, blacksmiths, painters, domestic laborers, and fruit and vegetable pickers, and they work in small family businesses. Children also work in factories, clean cars, and sell items at traffic stops. The Government study found that some children are subject to conditions considered to be forced labor. Risks for working children include injury from heavy machinery, loud noise, poor lighting, and exposure to chemicals.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Jordanian law sets the minimum age for work at 16 years, except for apprentices. The labor laws do not set a minimum age for such vocational training. For hazardous jobs, the minimum age is 18 years. Jordanian law states that children under 18 years shall not perform work with mechanically operated equipment; with oil and gas machines; requiring scuba diving equipment; in construction in which the worker is exposed to noise, vibration, high air pressure, radiation, or dust; underground; and in offices, hotels, restaurants, or nightclubs. Those under 18 years of age must be given a rest break after 4 hours of work and may not work more than 6 hours per day, during weekends and holidays, or at night. These restrictions, however, do not apply to agriculture or the informal sector, where many children work. Before hiring a minor, a prospective employer must obtain a guardian's written approval, the minor's birth certificate, and a health certificate. Violators of the law are subject to fines, but USDOS reports that this is often not enforced. Children who are self-employed, who are employed by family members, and who work for no wages, fall outside the scope of the labor code.

Compulsory labor is prohibited by the Constitution except in circumstances of war, natural disaster, or as a result of a conviction by a court of law. The minimum age for recruitment into the military is 18 years. The law calls for punishment up to life imprisonment with hard labor for anyone who uses a minor in the production, transportation, sale, or purchase of drugs. On March 31, 2009, a new anti-trafficking in persons law came into force that prohibits trafficking for both forced labor and sexual exploitation, with penalties of up to 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor for cases involving aggravating circumstances, such as where the victim is under the age of 18 years or is female. It is illegal to induce a female to engage in prostitution, to procure or attempt to procure "illegal" sex from any female under the age of 20 who is not a prostitute, or to sodomize a person under 15 years. Maximum prison terms are 3 years.

In July 2008, the Government amended the Labor Law to include domestic and agricultural workers. Codified standards, including those for wages, rest periods, and working hours will be defined in implementing by-laws which were not in effect at the time of reporting Fines for failure to comply with the law were increased, and fines included those for employers who force, threaten, or coerce someone to work.

The Child Labor Unit (CLU) of the Ministry of Labor (MOL) is primarily responsible for directing labor inspections and reviewing and ensuring the enforcement of existing legislation. According to USDOS, the current CLU staff of one person is insufficient. The MOL hired 60 additional labor inspectors in 2008, for a total of 140. All MOL inspectors, including child labor inspectors, will receive training through a USDOL-funded project to combat exploitive child labor in Jordan. According to the ILO Committee of Experts, current labor inspection mechanisms are inadequate in terms of their frequency, scope, outreach, and quality of reporting. Moreover, most working children are in establishments employing five workers or less and, therefore, are less likely to be inspected. Inspectors often handle child labor cases informally rather than issuing citations and fines. An official with the MOL Inspectorate Division told USDOS that inspectors frequently attempt to remove the child from the dangerous work situation, make agreements with the child's employer to gain access to education, or find other positive solutions so that families are not deprived of the child's income.

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

The National Agenda (2006-2015) calls for the reduction of child labor through the strengthening of the labor inspectorate and provision of vocational training opportunities. The Jordanian National Plan of Action for Children (2004-2013) aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in Jordan by 2014 and to decrease the number of child laborers under 16 years. The MOL Labor Inspectorate set a target to remove 3,000 children from the labor market in 2008. The actions are part of its long-term strategy to remove 38,000 children from work. Research has not identified whether this effort was a success. The public and private sectors cooperate on a code of conduct to fight child labor.

In January, the Lower House of Parliament endorsed the anti-trafficking in persons that came into effect in March 2009. In addition to including penalties for trafficking, the law states that shelters may be established for victims.

The Jordanian Hashemite Fund established a Social Safety Center in Sahab that provides non-formal education to working children from 13 to 15 years and is supported by the Greater Amman Municipality, the MOL, and the Ministry of Education. The Information and Resource Center of the King Hussein Foundation developed a model program for community-based organizations to assist child laborers.

The Government of Jordan is participating in a USDOL-funded four-year USD 4 million child labor education initiative program implemented by CHF International in association with Questscope Fund for Social Development and the National Council for Family Affairs. The project began in October 2008 and targets 4,000 children for withdrawal and 4,000 for prevention from exploitive work in informal and small industries in Greater Amman, Zarqa, Irbid, Madaba, and Aqaba and in hazardous agriculture in Jerash, Balqa, and Karak. The Government of Jordan is participating in a 14-month USDOL-funded USD 1.6 million ILO-IPEC project to conduct data collection on child labor.

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