Last Updated: Monday, 24 November 2014, 14:39 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uruguay

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uruguay, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa49741.html [accessed 24 November 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor3565
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:15
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:113
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:94
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2003:91
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Working children in Uruguay can frequently be found in the informal sector. Children work in agriculture, in domestic service, as street vendors, and in construction. They also work cleaning cars, begging, running errands, and as garbage sorters.3566

Commercial sexual exploitation of children occurs in Uruguay, generally in tourist areas, such as Punta del Este and Maldonado, and near the borders with Argentina and Brazil. The Government's Institute for Adolescents and Children (INAU) found that many minors who resorted to prostitution did so to assist their families, who frequently promoted their involvement.3567 Poor families reportedly have turned their children over to forced domestic service and agricultural labor.3568

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years. Adolescents between 15 and 18 years require Government permission to work.3569 Adolescents must undergo physical exams prior to beginning work and must renew these exams yearly. The Government only grants work permission to minors who either have finished 9 years of compulsory education or who are enrolled in school and are completing compulsory education.3570 Work permits are not granted for hazardous, fatiguing, or night work.3571 According to the U.S. Department of State, the Government of Uruguay's National Committee for the Eradication of Child Labor compiled and maintains a list of 50 hazardous jobs for children.3572 Presently, minors are not allowed to work for more than 6 hours per day within a 36-hour work week. Further, minors must rest 1 day a week, preferably Sunday, and cannot work between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 years may work up to 8 hours per day with permission from authorities.3573 The Adolescent Labor Division of the INAU may grant permission to minors ages 13 through 15 years to engage in light work. However, the ILO's CEACR noted that Uruguay has not yet defined "light labor."3574 Violations of child labor laws are punishable by fines.3575 Parents or adults responsible for working children may be subject to imprisonment of 3 months to 4 years.3576

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law.3577 The law prohibits child pornography, imposing prison terms of 2 to 6 years for its production; 1 to 4 years for its commercialization; and 6 months to 2 years for its distribution.3578 The penalty for using or facilitating the prostitution of a minor is 2 to 12 years in prison. This penalty is increased for those who are in a position of authority.3579 Trafficking of children into or out of the country for the purpose of sexual exploitation is penalized with 2 to 12 years in prison.3580 The minimum age for voluntary or compulsory military conscription is 18 years.3581

The INAU has six inspectors who specialize in child labor. In conjunction with the Ministry of Labor, they conduct approximately 2,400 child labor inspections per year, imposing sanctions in 5 percent of the cases.3582 However, USDOS reports that a lack of resources and the concentration of child work in the informal sector make enforcement difficult.3583 The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating trafficking in persons. The Ministry of Work and Social Security is responsible for investigating trafficking in persons for labor exploitation.3584

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

The Interdepartmental Commission for the Prevention and Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation, in conjunction with the INAU, has a national plan of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children. The goals of this plan are to strengthen the victim rights, to reinsert children back into school, to develop alternative means of income for families, and to improve protection measure for victims and witnesses.3585 However, according to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Government needs to dedicate more resources to understanding the nature of the problem of child labor and sexual exploitation of children, and its prevention.3586

The Government of Uruguay funds NGOs that assist victims of trafficking, but resources were limited and coverage across the country was uneven.3587 The Government worked with the IOM to raise awareness and increase local, state, and federal authorities' capacity to combat trafficking. The Ministry of Education has produced anti-trafficking public service announcements on national television.3588

The Government is also participating in an IDB-financed program that includes initiatives to address child labor, reduce school attrition, and improve children's performance in school. The program has provided services to 1,400 children, 40 percent of whom have enrolled in education services and no longer live or work in the streets.3589 UNICEF is implementing a project to raise awareness of children's and adolescents' rights that includes a component on child labor.3590 The Government of Uruguay also participated in an ILO-IPEC Phase II USD 2.6 million regional project and a Phase III USD 3 million regional project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain.3591

The Government of Uruguay and other associate and member governments of MERCOSUR conducted the Niño Sur (Southern Child) initiative to defend the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The initiative includes unified public campaigns against commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, and child labor; mutual technical assistance in adjusting legal frameworks to international standards on those issues; and the exchange of best practices related to victim protection and assistance.3592


3565 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Uruguay, Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia, (August 2, 2004), article 162; available from www.parlamento.gub.uy/leyes/AccesoTextoLey.asp?Ley=17823&Anchor=. See also Pan American Health Organization, Uruguay, [online] [cited November 28, 2007]; available from http://www.paho.org/spanish/sha/prfluru.htm. See also UNESCO, Education for All 2008 Assessment: Country Reports – Uruguay, 2007; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001547/154743e.pdf. See also Government of Uruguay, Constitución de la República, (2004), article 71; available from http://www.parlamento.gub.uy/constituciones/const004.htm. See also UNESCO, Education for All 2006 Assessment: Country Reports-Uruguay, 2005; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001547/154743e.pdf.

3566 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/index.htm. See also Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, UN Development Program, UN Population Fund, Rodrigo Arim, and Gonzalo Salas, Encuesta Nacional de Hogares Ampliada 2006, Módulo de trabajo infantil y adolescente, 2006, 13; available from http://www.ine.gub.uy/enha2006/INFORME_Trabajo_infantil.pdf.

3567 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Uruguay," section 5. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Uruguay, accessed November 28, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net/.

3568 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm.

3569 Government of Uruguay, Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia, article 162.

3570 Ibid., articles 167, 168.

3571 Ibid., articles 163, 172.

3572 U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, reporting, December 7, 2007.

3573 Government of Uruguay, Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia, article 169.

3574 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, C138: Uruguay.

3575 Government of Uruguay, Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia, article 173.

3576 Ibid., article 176. See also Government of Uruguay, Código penal de la República oriental del Uruguay, (1986), article 279B; available from http://www.unifr.ch/derechopenal/legislacion/uy/cp_uruguay.htm.

3577 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Uruguay," section 6d. See also Government of Uruguay, Código penal de la República oriental del Uruguay, article 280.

3578 Government of Uruguay, Poder Legislativo, República Oriental del Uruguay: Violencia Sexual Comercial o No Comercial Cometida Contra Ninos, Adolescentes o Incapaces, Ley No. 17.815, (August 18, 2004), articles 1-3; available from http://www.parlamento.gub.uy/Leyes/Ley17815.htm.

3579 Ibid., articles 4, 5.

3580 Ibid., article 6.

3581 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook – Uruguay, [online] November 15, 2007 [cited November 28, 2007]; available from https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uy.html.

3582 U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, reporting, December 7, 2007.

3583 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Uruguay," section 6d.

3584 IOM, Trata de personas: Apuntes desde Uruguay sobre un desafío global, Montevideo, 2007; available from http://www.oimuruguay.org/Documentos/Trata%20Uruguay.pdf.

3585 U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, reporting, December 7, 2007, section d.

3586 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Periodic Reports of States Parties due in 2007: Uruguay, July 5, 2007, paras 62, 66; available from http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?page=country&docid=469b351d2&skip=&coi=URY.

3587 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 13, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82806.htm.

3588 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Uruguay," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Uruguay."

3589 IDB, Uruguay: Comprehensive Program for At-risk Children, Adolescents and Families,, UR-134, 2002; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/doc98/apr/ur1434e.pdf. See also U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, reporting, December 7, 2007. See also IDB, Approved Projects-Uruguay, [online] [cited November 28, 2007]; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/doc98/apr/lcuru.htm.

3590 UNICEF, At a Glance: Uruguay, [online] [cited November 28, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/uruguay.html.

3591 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, February 4, 2008.

3592 Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, Iniciativa Niñ@ Sur, [online] [cited March 16, 2008]; available from http://www.derhuman.jus.gov.ar/direcciones/asistencia/ninosur.htm. See also Child Rights Information Network, MERCOSUR, [online] 2007 [cited December 26, 2007]; available from http://www.crin.org/espanol/RM/mercosur.asp.

Search Refworld

Countries