Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Chile

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 - Chile, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 30 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

The Government of Chile has been a member of ILO-IPEC since 1996. As part of the program, the government established the National Advisory Committee to Eradicate Child Labor.[528] The Committee has promoted legislation, raised awareness about child labor issues and designed regional programs for children in Rio Cachapoal, El Olivar, Temuco and the suburbs of Santiago.[529] In September 2000, the Committee organized a seminar to define guidelines for a national action plan to address child labor. The Committee is also participating in a South America regional project through ILO-IPEC to train labor inspectors on child labor issues, collect data under ILO-IPEC's SIMPOC, and conduct activities on child labor for employers and workers.[530]

The Chilean Ministry of Education has initiated reforms to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of the country's educational system.[531] The Program of 900 Schools (P-900), which was launched in 1990, provided professional development for teachers, special courses for children, leadership development and family involvement for Chile's most economically disadvantaged pre- and primary school children.[532] Since 1992, the Rural Basic Education Program has provided additional funding for rural students and teachers.[533] In 1996, the government implemented the Full School Day Reform, which extended the school day, provided a new curriculum framework, implemented incentives for teacher professionalism and initiated a network to model and disseminate innovative teaching, learning and managerial practices at the secondary level.[534]

In 1996, a survey conducted by the Government of Chile estimated that 1.9 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 14 in Chile were working during the three months preceding the survey.[535] ILO-IPEC identified mining, agriculture, and street work as three areas where children are working in Chile.[536] Children also work in fishing, charcoal production, meat processing, manufacturing (bakeries, furniture, bottling and packaging), ranching, shepherding, shellfish processing, construction, lumber processing, domestic service, as porters and baggers in supermarkets, and in the sale of drugs.[537] The government reported that in 1999, 3,500 children under the age of 18 worked in prostitution and pornography.[538] Girls are trafficked from Chile to Brazil's Pantanal region, and there is allegedly an increase in the prostitution of boys.[539]

Education is compulsory in Chile between the ages of 6 and 13.[540] The gross primary enrollment rate was 101.3 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 89.4 percent in 1996.[541] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Chile. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[542] The country's rural population, particularly that which is directly engaged in agriculture, rarely completes basic education.[543] Children of low-income families are more likely to work and are less likely to attend school than children of higher-income families.[544]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years.[545] Children ages 15 to 18 can work with the permission of their parents. Fifteen year olds are allowed to do light work if they have completed compulsory education, and if the work will not affect their health, development or attendance in education and training programs.[546] Children under the age of 18 are prohibited from working more than eight hours a day, at night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. (outside a family business), underground, in nightclubs, or in activities that endanger their health, safety and morality.[547] The Constitution and the Labor Code prohibit forced labor,[548] and child prostitution, the corruption of minors and pornography are prohibited under the Penal Code.[549] The trafficking of children for prostitution is also prohibited under the Penal Code.[550]

The Ministry of Labor's Inspection Agency enforces child labor laws in the formal sector, while the National Service for Minors (SENAME) within the Ministry of Justice investigates exploitative child labor related to pornography, the sale of drugs, and other related criminal activities.[551] Child labor inspections are infrequent, and are usually initiated only after a complaint.[552] Chile ratified ILO Convention 138 on February 1, 1999 and ILO Convention 182 on July 17, 2000.[553]

[528] ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, at This committee includes the Ministry of Labor, UNICEF, ILO, NGOs, business leaders, legislators, trade unions, churches, and other public and private entities. See also U.S. Embassy-Santiago, unclassified telegram no. 2756, October 2001 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 2756].

[529] Unclassified telegram 2756.

[530] Organización Internacional del Trabajo, Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe, Programa Internacional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil IPEC, Coordinación Subregional para America del Sur: Chile, at

[531] Francoise Delannoy, "Education Reforms in Chile, 1980-1998: A Lesson in Pragmatism," The Education Reform and Management Publication Series, vol. 1, no. 1, World Bank, Human Development Network, Washington, D.C. [hereinafter Delannoy, "Education Reforms in Chile"], 61.

[532] Gobierno de Chile, Ministerio de Educación, Programa de las 900 Escuelas Para Sectores Pobres, at

[533] Gobierno de Chile, Ministerio de Educación, Educación Rural, Programa Básica Rural, at

[534] Delannoy, "Education Reform in Chile," at 25-27.

[535] The 1996 government survey found that 47,000 children between the ages of 6 and 14 were working, and that 78,000 children between ages 15 and 17 were working, which is 9.7 percent of the total number of children in that age group. See Ministerio de Planificación y Cooperación, Situación del Trabajo Infantil en Chile, 1996: Resultados de la Encuesta de Caracterización Socioeconómica Nacional (Santiago, September 1997), 3, 9.

[536] Unclassified telegram 2756.

[537] Sistema de Información Regional sobre Trabajo Infantil, Sistematización del Proyecto: Acción Contra el Trabajo Infantil á Través de la Educación y la Motivación, atón2.htm. See also Colegio de Profesores de Chile, A.G., "Trabajo Infantil: Los Niños y Niñas a la Escuela," El Nuevo Educador, March 5, 2000 [on file]; Coordinación Nacional de Marcha, Corporación Opción Marcha, Global Contra el Trabajo Infantil (Chile, March 12-17, 1998), 7 [on file]; and Ministerio de Justicia, Trabajo Infantil en Chile: Ponencia de la Ministra de Justicia, Maria Soledad Alvear Valenzuela, en la Conferencia Internacional sobre Trabajo Infantil, realizada en Oslo Noruega, October 1997 [hereinafter Trabajo Infantil en Chile], 4, 5 [on file].

[538] Comisión Andina de Juristas CAJ, 3,500 Children Involved in Prostitution in 1999, A Figure Provided by President Ricardo Lagos, The Government Ratifies ILO Convention 182 on Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor, at http://caj.../]?ddatos=2000&egistros=25&format=resumen&bollean=0470 [on file].

[539] Swedish International Development Agency, Looking Back Thinking Forward: The Fourth Report on the Implementation of the Agenda for Action Adopted at the First World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden, 28 August 1996 for 1999-2000 (Stockholm, 2000), Section 4.3.

[540] UNESCO, The Education for All (EFA) 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Chileat

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

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

[543] ILO-IPEC, untitled paper from Sistema Regional de Informacion sobre Trabajo Infantil (Chile, 1995), 16 [on file].

[544] Trabajo Infantil en Chile at 6, 7.

[545] Unclassified telegram 2756.

[546] Codigo Del Trabajo (1994), Chapter II, Articles 13-18, Ministerio Del Trabajo y Prevision Social, LEY-19684, as found in Andres Lamoliatte, Embassy of Chile, electronic correspondence to Chris Camillo, USDOL official, November 2, 2001.

[547] Unclassified telegram 2756. See also Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Chile (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001), [hereinafter Country Reports for 2000], Section 6d, at

[548] Country Reports for 2000, Section 6c.

[549] Unclassified telegram 2756. See also Interpol, Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offenses Against Children: Chile [hereinafter Legislation of Interpol Member States], at on 11/6/01.

[550] Legislation of Interpol Member States.

[551] Unclassified telegram 2756.

[552] Ibid.

[553] ILO, Ratifications of ILO Conventions, ILOLEX database, at

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