Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 10:50 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Poland

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Poland, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748a741.html [accessed 16 September 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.2939 These rights include the defense against violence, cruelty, exploitation, and actions that undermine a child's moral sense.2940 The Ombudsman has been active in a public information campaign on the hazards of children working in agriculture.2941 The Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, State Labor Inspectorate (PIP), and Roman Catholic Church are working together to increase awareness of the hazards of child labor in rural communities.2942

The Government of Poland is currently developing a national plan to combat trafficking that coordinates the efforts of the government, the private sector and NGOs.2943 The government has also started a project against trafficking in persons in cooperation with the Global Programme Against Trafficking in Human Beings of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The goal of the project is to strengthen criminal justice responses to trafficking and to improve the cooperation among the criminal justice system, civil society and other organizations to prevent trafficking and control the involvement of organized crime. In addition, an important part of the project is to provide assistance to victims and witnesses of trafficking.2944 The government also cooperates with INTERPOL to address the issue of trafficking and organized crime.2945

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Poland are unavailable. However, PIP reports an 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.2946 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, Russia, 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.2947 Other European countries, including Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic, tend to be destination states for children who are trafficked from Poland.2948

Education in Poland is compulsory to 18 years of age, and is free in public schools.2949 However, children living in rural areas and small towns are sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to access to quality education.2950 In 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 97.7, and in 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 96.5 percent.2951 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.2952

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Article 190 of the Labor Code sets the minimum age of employment at 15 years.2953 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.2954 Polish children below the age of 16 are banned from mining and most types of construction.2955 The Criminal Code bans work by children under the age of 16 in the production of pornographic films.2956

Polish law prohibits forced and bonded child labor.2957 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.2958 Efforts to combat trafficking include the implementation of revised anti-trafficking criminal statues in 1998, with penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.2959 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.2960 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.2961 In 2001, the PIP conducted 1,375 investigations of underage employment, and levied fines that totaled 133,000 PLN (USD 34,000). Another 307 cases were sent to an administrative tribunal which can levy steeper fines. During the 2001 harvest, PIP found 2,400 children involved in harvesting. Fifty-four percent of these children were working in unsafe and harmful conditions.2962

The Government of Poland ratified ILO Convention 138 on March 22, 1978, and ratified ILO Convention 182 on August 9, 2002.2963


2939 Government of Poland, Law of 6 January 2000 on the Ombudsman for Children, [cited August 22, 2002]; available from http://www.brpd.gov.pl/law.html. See also Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Head of the Polish Delegation, Krystyna Tokarska-Biernacik, Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children, May 8-10, 2002, [cited December 31, 2002]; available from http://www.un.org/ga/children/polandE.htm.

2940 Constitution of Poland, Chapter 2, Article 72 [cited October 25, 2002]; available from http://www.sejm.gov.pl/ english/konstytucja/kon1.htm.

2941 U.S. Embassy – Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446, October 2001.

2942 Ibid.

2943 U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 13, 2003.

2944 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 September 12, 2002]; available from http://www.odccp.org/odccp/ trafficking_projects.html. The UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention was renamed the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in October 2002. The UNODC's International Center for Crime Prevention is overseeing the project. See United Nations Information Service, Press Briefing on UN Vienna Offices' Contribution to General Assembly Special Session on Children, [online] May 8, 2002 [cited September 4, 2002]; available from http://www.unis.unvienna.org/en/events/2002/summary08may02.htm.

2945 UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, The Case of Poland, [online] [cited September 12, 2002]; available from http://www.odccp.org/odccp/trafficking_projects_poland.html.

2946 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Poland, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 1679-83, Section 6d [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/eur/ 8321.htm.

2947 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, Belgium and Switzerland. See U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Poland, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2002, 83 [cited December 31, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/ 2001/3928.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Poland.

2948 Information from the Polish National Police as cited in U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication, February 13, 2003.

2949 Constitution of Poland, Chapter 2, Article 70.

2950 Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children.

2951 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

2952 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

2953 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, 462-67. See also Order No. 278 of 28 May 1996 of the Council of Ministers concerning vocational training of young persons and their remuneration, 1368-71 [cited January 2, 2003]; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/scripts/natlexcgi.exe?lang=E.

2954 ILO, Review of Annual Reports, 63.

2955 U.S. Embassy – Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446.

2956 Ibid. See also Government of Poland, Criminal Code, Article 200 [cited December 18, 2002]; available from http://www.protectionproject.org.

2957 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Poland, 1679-83, Section 6d.

2958 Criminal Code- Poland, Articles 200, 03, and 04.

2959 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Poland, 1679-83, Section 6. See also Criminal Code- Poland, Article 203, para. 4.

2960 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Poland.

2961 U.S. Embassy – Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4446.

2962 U.S. Embassy – Warsaw, unclassified telegram no. 4049, November 2002.

2963 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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