Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago

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 - Trinidad and Tobago, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 26 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 (%), 2000:257,049
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:3.5
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:4.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:2.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:12
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:94.7
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:84.6
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:97
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:91
ILO Convention 138:9/3/2004
ILO Convention 182:4/23/2003
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Although there is no significant evidence of children working in Trinidad and Tobago, the Minister of Labor acknowledges that street children work. Children are reported to be victims of commercial sexual exploitation. There are conflicting reports as to whether Trinidad and Tobago is a destination and transit country for the trafficking of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment in public or private industries at 16 years. However, children 14 to 16 years may work in activities in which only family members are employed or if they are enrolled in a vocational or technical training school. Children under 18 years are prohibited from working between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except in a family business or with other exceptions. One such exception allows children 16 to 18 years old to work at night in sugar factories.

Violators of these regulations are subject to sanctions.

There is no compulsory military service in Trinidad and Tobago; the minimum age for voluntary military service is 16 years with parental or guardian consent. The ILO Committee of Experts has recommended that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago amend the Defense Act in order to establish the legal minimum age of enlistment at 18 or to allow enlisted children under 18 years of age to leave the service by their own choice upon reaching the age of 18.

Forced labor or exploitive labor under inhumane conditions is prohibited. Trafficking may be prosecuted under laws that pertain to kidnapping, procurement of sex, prostitution, slavery, and indentured servitude. The law prohibits the procurement of minors for prostitution or sexual offenses, with penalties up to imprisonment for life if the child is under 14 years of age, and up to 15 years if the child is under 16 years. Procurement is considered an offense, whether committed in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere. The operation of a brothel is punishable by imprisonment for 5 years, and allowing minors under 16 years to be on the premises of the brothel for sexual purposes is subject to imprisonment of 10 years. Any person responsible for causing or encouraging commercial sexual exploitation of a minor under 16 years of age is subject to 5 years of imprisonment.

The Children's Authority is responsible for the wellbeing of children. It oversees social services provided to children, enforces laws related to the rights of children, investigates complaints or reports, and makes sure that vulnerable children receive care and protection. The Ministry of Labor and Small and Micro-Enterprise Development (MLSMED) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) enforce child labor provisions. Currently, Trinidad and Tobago has 19 labor inspectors who receive training to identify child labor. Labor inspectors have the authority to enter, inspect, and examine any premises when there is reasonable cause to believe that violations are taking place. While the Family Court enforces child legislation, including child labor laws, the Police Services handle cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children, trafficking in children, and involvement of children in drug trafficking, all of which are considered to be crimes. According to USDOS, enforcement of child labor laws is weak due to the lack of a comprehensive Government policy on child labor and mechanisms for receiving and addressing child labor complaints. In general, the Government's capacity to pursue its commitment to protect the rights and welfare of children is limited by lack of funds and expanding social needs.

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

During the reporting period, MSD continued to implement the Revised National Plan of Action for Children (2006-2010), which includes specific goals to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the trafficking of children, and exploitive child labor. MLSMED designed educational materials to enforce labor standards among employers and employees, which include information on child labor laws. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago participated in Phase II of a USD 750,000 regional project to combat the worst forms of child labor in the Caribbean, funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by ILO-IPEC. In partnership with UNICEF, the Government published the results of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted in 2006, which provides insights into the situation of children, including child labor, in Trinidad and Tobago.

With the participation of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and funding from USDOS, IOM launched an initiative to raise awareness and provide technical assistance on human trafficking in 2008. The Governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Colombia joined efforts to combat trafficking in persons.

Search Refworld