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2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Hungary

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 - Hungary, 18 April 2003, 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 Hungary is working with IOM and women's rights organizations to implement a trafficking prevention program in schools.1774 In addition, the government provides partial financial support for a trafficking information hotline through the public fund "For a Safe Hungary."1775 In 1997, Hungary implemented a program for border guards that had a particular emphasis on preventing trafficking in children and young adults.1776 In 1999, the government amended the Act of Public Education to implement an educational improvement project, which included measures to increase access to schools.1777 Also in 1999, an Office of the Ministerial Ombudsman for Education Affairs was established to respond to problems related to accessing education, and to address concerns submitted by parents, administrators, teachers, or students.1778

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Hungary are unavailable.1779 There is little evidence of child labor in the formal sector, although occasional cases are reported.1780 Children work as beggars in urban areas,1781 and also as prostitutes, according to Budapest Police, although the scope of the problem is unknown.1782 Hungary is primarily a transit country, but also a source and destination country, for trafficking in persons, including children. Girls are trafficked from Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Yugoslavia, and China to and through Hungary to Western Europe and the United States for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.1783

The Education Act establishes 10 years of compulsory education, ending at the age of 16.1784 Primary education is free, according to the Constitution.1785 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 102.6 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 81.8 percent.1786 Attendance rates are not available for Hungary. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.1787 Schools in ethnic Roma communities are in markedly poorer condition, and only a reported 1.6 percent of Roma children graduate from high school.1788

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code of 1992 states that children may only be employed when they have finished their compulsory education, which effectively sets the minimum age for work at 16 years.1789 However, children who are at least 14 years old are permitted to work if the work does not interfere with schooling or if they are exempt from attending school.1790 All children under age 16 must obtain the consent of a legal guardian before entering into an employment contract.1791 The Labor Code specifically prohibits children under the age of 18 from working in jobs that may be detrimental to their physical well-being or development, in night work, or in overtime work.1792 Forced labor is prohibited by law.1793 According to the 1999 Act of Offenses, persuading or soliciting another to engage in prostitution is illegal, as is working in a brothel under the age of 18. The punishment is two to eight years imprisonment.1794 The Criminal Code has provisions against kidnapping and violations of personal freedom and smuggling of persons.1795

The National Work Safety and Labor Affairs Supervision Office (OMMF) has 20 county and local offices to enforce the labor code, including provisions related to child labor. OMMF inspectors respond to complaints and conduct random spot checks to ensure that employers adhere to labor regulations. Complex labor violations may be presented to the labor courts. Violations of labor regulations are misdemeanors punishable by a fine ranging from approximately USD 160 to 9,000. Child labor laws are reported to be enforced.1796 The government investigated and prosecuted an increased number of trafficking cases in 2001.1797

The Government of Hungary ratified ILO Convention 138 on May 28, 1998 and ILO Convention 182 on April 20, 2000.1798

1774 U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices- 2001: Hungary, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 1509-11, Section 6f [cited December 20, 2002]; available from 8264.htm.

1775 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2002: Hungary, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2002, 59 [cited August 30, 2002]; available from

1776 European Parliament Directorate-General for Research, Implementation of Recommendation No. R(91)11 on sexual exploitation, pornography and prostitution of, and trafficking in, children and young adults, as cited in Trafficking in Women Working Paper, European Parliament, Brussels, 2000, 69.

1777 Ministry of Education, Comenius 2000 Programme for Quality Improvement in Public Education, The New Approach to Quality in Public Education, [online] 1999 [cited August 30, 2002]; available from j430_english.html.

1778 U.S. Embassy – Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 3455, September 2000.

1779 Hungary does not collect labor force statistics for children under the age of 15. ILO, Laborstat Database of Labor Statistics, [database online] 2002 [cited October 21, 2002]; available from HU.html.

1780 U.S. Embassy – Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 3455.

1781 Ibid.

1782 U.S. Embassy – Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 1920, March 1998.

1783 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: Hungary, 59.

1784 UNESCO, World Data on Education: Hungary, [online] April 2002 [cited September 25, 2002]; available from

1785 Constitution of the Republic of Hungary, (1949), Article 70F, [cited August 30, 2002]; available from

1786 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

1787 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

1788 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Hungary, 1509-11, Section 6c.

1789 Government of Hungary, Hungary Labour Code, Act No. 22 of 1992, Part III, 1992, Section 72(c), [cited August 30, 2002]; available from

1790 Ibid., Section 72(4).

1791 Ibid., Section 72(2).

1792 Ibid., Sections 75 and 121.

1793 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Hungary, 1509-11, Section 6c.

1794 Government of Hungary, Act of Offenses (Act LXIX of 1999), Sections 143, 205-07, [cited August 30, 2002]; available from

1795 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1993, Addendum: Hungary, CRC/C/8/Add.34, prepared by Government of Hungary, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1996, paras. 101, 103.

1796 U.S. Embassy – Budapest, unclassified telegram no. 3455.

1797 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: Hungary, 59.

1798 ILO, Ratifications by Country, ILOLEX, [database online] [cited August 8, 2002]; available from

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