Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Poland

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 - Poland, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca2d3d.html [accessed 13 July 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

In January 2000, the Government of Poland created an Ombudsman for Children's Rights to guard the rights of children as provided in the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and national laws.[3582] These rights include the defense against violence, cruelty, exploitation, and actions that undermine a child's moral sense.[3583] The Ombudsman has been active in a public information campaign on the hazards of children working in agriculture.[3584] The Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, State Labor Inspectorate and Roman Catholic Church are working together to increase awareness of the hazards of child labor in rural communities.[3585]

In September 2003, the Government of Poland approved a national plan to combat trafficking that coordinates the efforts of the government, the private sector, and NGOs.[3586] In cooperation with the Global Program Against Trafficking in Human Beings of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the government has also started a project against trafficking in persons. The project aims is to strengthen criminal justice responses to trafficking and to enhance the coordination among the criminal justice system, civil society, and other organizations to prevent trafficking and control the involvement of organized crime. An important component of the project is to provide direct services to victims and witnesses of trafficking.[3587] The government cooperates with INTERPOL to address the issue of trafficking and organized crime.[3588] The government also provided a public building to an NGO to use as a shelter for trafficking victims and gave another organization a grant to build a shelter. However, since the number of shelters remained inadequate, NGOs frequently resorted to impromptu arrangements to shelter victims. The law allows foreign victims with illegal status to remain in the country during the investigation and trail of their traffickers. During 2003, the government provided full assistance to three victims who cooperated in prosecutions.[3589]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Poland are unavailable. However, the State Labor Inspectorate reportsan increase in the number of children working and an increase in labor violations by employers. Children have been found working in small businesses, factories and restaurants, and on farms.[3590] There are also reports that girls are trafficked to and from Poland for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Girls trafficked into the country are generally from the Eastern European region, and include countries such as Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, and are disproportionately Turkish and Roma minorities. Other European countries, including Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic, tend to be destination states for children who are trafficked from Poland.[3591] The commercial sexual exploitation of boys by males visiting from Denmark, Germany, and Sweden is an increasing concern.[3592]

Education in Poland is compulsory to 18 years of age, and is free in public schools.[3593] However, children living in rural areas and small towns are sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to access to quality education.[3594] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 99.6, and the net primary enrollment rate was 97.7 percent.[3595] 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.[3596]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Article 190 of the Labor Code sets the minimum age of employment at 15 years.[3597] Children 13 to 15 years of age may work under temporary, limited contracts with permission from their parents. Minors 15 to 18 years have wider employment possibilities, but they may only be employed upon completion of primary school and under non-hazardous work conditions.[3598] Polish children below the age of 15 are banned from mining and most types of construction.[3599] The Penal Code bans work by children under the age of 15 in the production of pornographic films.[3600]

Polish law prohibits forced and bonded child labor.[3601] Engaging in a sex act with a person under the age of 15 is a criminal offense in Poland, and carries a penalty of 1 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.[3602] Penalties for trafficking or recruiting the prostitution of individuals can impose sentences up to 10 years imprisonment.[3603]

The State Labor Inspectorate is responsible for all labor-related complaints, including those related to child labor, and inspectors receive training in handling child labor issues.[3604] In 2002, the State Labor Inspectorate conducted 1,450 investigations of underage employment, and levied fines that totaled 121,210 PLN (USD 32,000). Another 116 cases were sent to an administrative tribunal, which can levy steeper fines.[3605] During the 2001 harvest, the State Labor Inspectorate found 2,400 children involved in harvesting. Fifty-four percent of these children were working in unsafe and harmful conditions.[3606]

The Government of Poland ratified ILO Convention 138 on March 22, 1978, and ratified ILO Convention 182 on August 9, 2002.[3607]


[3582] Government of Poland, Law of 6 January 2000 on the Ombudsman for Children; available from http://www.brpd.gov.pl/law.html. http://www.brpd.gov.pl/law.html See Krystyna Tokarska-Biernacik, Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children, May 8-10, 2002 [cited June 28, 2003]; available from http://www.un.org/ga/children/polandE.htm.

[3583] Constitution of Poland, Chapter 2, Article 72; available from http://www.sejm.gov.pl/english/konstytucja/kon1.htm.

[3584] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446, October 4, 2001.

[3585] Ibid.

[3586] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4290, December 22, 2003. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Poland, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6f; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18385.htm.

[3587] UNODC official, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 13, 2003. See also UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Trafficking in Human Beings: Pilot Projects: Central and Eastern Europe: the Czech Republic and Poland, [online] [cited July 23, 2003]; available from http://www.odccp.org/odccp/trafficking_projects.html.

[3588] UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, The Case of Poland, [online] [cited July 23, 2003]; available from http://www.odccp.org/odccp/trafficking_projects_poland.html.

[3589] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Poland.

[3590] Ibid., Section 6d.

[3591] Information on trafficking from the Polish National Police as cited in U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication, February 13, 2003. There were reports in early 2002 that children were trafficked from Poland to the Netherlands and Belgium. See U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Poland, June 11, 2003 [cited July 23, 2003]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2003/21276.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Poland, Section 5, 6f.

[3592] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 3336, September 18, 2003.

[3593] Constitution of Poland, Chapter 2, Article 70, Para. 1 and 2,; available from http://www.sejm.gov.pl/english/konstytucja/kon1.htm.

[3594] Tokarska-Biernacik, Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children.

[3595] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[3596] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[3597] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Poland, online, CRC/C/70/Add.12, Geneva, February 6, 2002, 17; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.70.Add.12.En?OpenDocument.

[3598] ILO, Review of Annual Reports under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, GB.283/3/1, Geneva, March 2002, 63. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Poland, 17-19.

[3599] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446.

[3600] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Poland, 79.

[3601] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Poland, Section 6c.

[3602] Criminal Code, as cited in The Protection Project Legal Library, [database online], Articles 200, 03, and 04; available from http://www.protectionproject.org. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Poland, 79.

[3603] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Poland, Section 6f.

[3604] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446.

[3605] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 3336.

[3606] U.S. Embassy-Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4049, November 2002.

[3607] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited July 2, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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