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

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Poland

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 - Poland, 7 June 2002, 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.

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

An Ombudsman for Children's Rights was created in January 2000 to guard the rights of children as provided in the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other laws.[2078] These rights include the defense against violence, cruelty, exploitation and actions that undermine a child's moral sense.[2079] The Ombudsman has been active in a public information campaign on the hazards of children working in agriculture.[2080] The Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, the State Labor Inspectorate (PIP), and the Roman Catholic Church are working together to increase awareness of the hazards of child labor in rural communities.[2081]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Poland are unavailable. However, the Polish Ombudsman for Children's Rights estimates that roughly 4 percent of children under the age of 15, and 60 percent of rural children under age 18 work.[2082] Children are found working in the agricultural sector, primarily on family farms.[2083] In urban areas, children are found working in restaurants, bakeries, and stores, passing out leaflets, and cleaning.[2084] Children are reported to engage in prostitution.[2085] There are also reports that girls are trafficked from Poland to Western European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, for the purpose of sexual exploitation.[2086]

Education in Poland is compulsory to 18 years of age, and is free in public schools.[2087] In 1995, the gross primary enrollment rate was 96.4, and the net primary enrollment rate was 94.5 percent.[2088] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Poland. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[2089]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age of employment at 13 years.[2090] Children 13 to 15 years of age may work under temporary, limited contracts with permission from their parents. Minors between 15 and 18 years have wider employment possibilities, but they may only be employed upon completion of primary school and under non-hazardous work conditions. Polish children below the age of 16 are banned from mining and most types of construction.[2091] The Criminal code bans work by children under the age of 16 in the production of pornographic films.[2092]

Polish law prohibits forced and bonded child labor.[2093] Engaging in a sex act with a person under the age of 15 is a criminal offense in Poland, and carries a penalty of one to 10 years imprisonment. Leading an individual into prostitution by means of force, threat, or by taking advantage of the dependence of a person is prohibited by Article 203 of the Criminal Code. Encouraging or promoting the prostitution of a person with the purpose of pecuniary gain is also considered criminal.[2094] Efforts to combat trafficking include the implementation of revised anti-trafficking criminal statues in 1998, with penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.[2095] However, foreigners trafficked into Poland have no legal status or public resources available to them, and they are often quickly deported to minimize the expense of keeping them in detention.[2096] The PIP is responsible for all labor-related complaints, including those related to child labor, and PIP inspectors receive training in handling child labor issues.[2097] Of the 1,494 investigations of charges of underage employment that were conducted by the PIP in 1999, the PIP levied fines in 417 cases and sent 358 cases to an administrative tribunal which can levy steeper fines.[2098]

Poland ratified ILO Convention 138 on March 22, 1978, but has not ratified ILO Convention 182.[2099]

[2078] Dziennik Ustaw (Journal of Laws), no. 6, item 69, Law on the Ombudsman for Children, as cited in Republic of Poland, Office of the Ombudsman for Children, at

[2079] Constitution of Poland, Chapter 2, Article 72 [hereinafter Constitution of Poland], at English-language version of the Constitution of Poland can be found on the Web site of the Sejm (the lower house of Parliament) of the Republic of Poland at

[2080] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446, October 4, 2001 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 4446].

[2081] Ibid.

[2082] Unclassified telegram 4446 at 1, 3.

[2083] Ibid.

[2084] Ibid.

[2085] Helena Karlen and Christina Hagner, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Some Eastern European Countries (Bankgok: ECPAT International, March 1996), 11. See also Carmen Galiana, European Parliament, Working Paper, Trafficking in Women, Civil Liberties Series, March 2000, 71.

[2086] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, July 2001, Poland [hereinafter Trafficking in Persons Report], 64.

[2087] Constitution of Poland, Chapter 2, Article 70.

[2088] World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [CD-ROM].

[2089] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see Introduction to this report.

[2090] Unclassified telegram 4446. The Constitution of Poland sets the minimum age of permanent employment at 16 and allows for the types and nature of employment to be determined by statute. See Constitution of Poland at Section IV, Article 65, 3.

[2091] Unclassified telegram 4446.

[2092] Ibid. See also Criminal Code, Article 200, as cited in the Protection Project Database [hereinafter Criminal Code] at

[2093] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Poland (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Section 6d, at

[2094] Criminal Code at Articles 200, 203, and 204.

[2095] Trafficking in Persons Report at 64. See also Criminal Code at Article 204, para. 4.

[2096] Trafficking in Persons Report at 64.

[2097] Unclassified telegram 4446.

[2098] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d.

[2099] ILO, ILOLEX database: Poland, at For the text of ILO C105, see

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