Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 09:51 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uruguay

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uruguay, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7495a1b.html [accessed 28 July 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working:Unavailable
Minimum age for admission to work:154334
Age to which education is compulsory:144335
Free public education:Yes4336
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2003:109%4337
Net primary enrollment rate in 2003:Unavailable
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:Unavailable
As of 2002, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:88%4338
Ratified Convention 138:6/2/19774339
Ratified Convention 182:8/3/20014340
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes4341

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The majority of child labor in Uruguay occurs in the informal sector. Some children work in agriculture or as street vendors or jugglers.4342 They also work cleaning windshields, begging, and helping their parents as garbage sorters.4343 Commercial sexual exploitation of children occurs in Uruguay, mostly in the areas that border Brazil.4344 Children, including those who are very poor and homeless, are involved in prostitution around factories and in slums, and a specific market for virgin children exists.4345 There are also isolated reports of prostitution of boys.4346 There is a growing concern of possible child prostitution rings in Montevideo and Punta del Este, with the involvement of hotel staff and taxi drivers.4347 Reports from children's rights NGOs indicate that 90 percent of minors who resorted to prostitution did so to assist their families, who allowed or actively promoted their involvement.4348 Poor families reportedly have turned their children over to forced domestic service and agricultural labor.4349

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years.4350 Adolescents between 15 and 18 years require government permission to work and must undergo physical exams to identify possible exposure to job-related physical harm. These permits are not granted for hazardous, fatiguing, and night work.4351 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.4352 Another exception that may be granted by the Adolescent Labor Division of the National Institute for Adolescents and Children (INAU) is for minors ages 13 through 15 to engage in mainly cultural or artistic activities.4353 Minors are not allowed to work for more than 6 hours per day within a 36-hour work week. Further, minors have to rest 1 day a week, preferably Sunday, and cannot work between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.4354 Violations of child labor laws are punishable by fines.4355 Parents or adults responsible for working children may be subject to imprisonment of 3 months to 4 years.4356

Forced or compulsory labor, including by children, is prohibited by law.4357 The legal system addresses sexual exploitation, prostitution, and trafficking involving minors and provides prison terms of 2 to 12 years.4358 The minimum age for voluntary or compulsory military conscription is 18 years.4359

The INAU bears primary responsibility for implementing policies to prevent and regulate child labor and to provide training on child labor issues.4360 INAU works with the Ministry of Labor to investigate complaints of child labor and with the Ministry of the Interior to prosecute cases.4361 INAU has hired 109 inspectors to conduct approximately 2,000 inspections per year, imposing sanctions in 5 percent of the cases.4362 However, the U.S. Department of State reports that a lack of resources and the concentration of child work in the informal sector, which accounts for 40 percent of total employment in Uruguay, make enforcement difficult.4363 Authorities recently investigated the case of a child prostitution ring operating at the border with Argentina.4364 The Crime Prevention Office within the Ministry of the Interior addresses child trafficking and implements a database on cases related to trafficking.4365

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, along with INAU, has a national plan of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children that includes protection measures for victims and witnesses. However, the organizations reported a lack of resources to pursue their objective.4366 The Ministry of Education has produced anti-trafficking public service announcements on national television.4367

The Government of Uruguay funds various NGOs that assist homeless children and victims of trafficking. Programs for trafficking victims include legal, medical and psychological care, as well as shelter, food, and education.4368 However, according to the U.S. Department of State, care for victims was not available in all parts of the country; shelters could not meet the demand and did not keep records that identified whether they were in fact serving trafficking victims.4369

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.4370

UNICEF is implementing a project to raise awareness of children's and adolescents' rights that includes a component on child labor.4371


4334 Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia en Uruguay, (August 2, 2004), Article 162; available from http://www.gurisesunidos.org.uy/codigo.htm.

4335 Pan American Health Organization, Uruguay, [online] 2006 [cited December 20, 2006]; available from http://www.paho.org/spanish/sha/prfluru.htm. See also Government of Uruguay, Constitución de la República, Article 70; available from http://www.parlamento.gub.uy/constituciones/const004.htm.

4336 Constitución de la República, Article 71.

4337 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

4338 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

4339 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed December 28; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declworld.htm.

4340 Ibid.

4341 ILO, Ficha Pais: Uruguay, [online] [cited December 28, 2006]; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/spanish/260ameri/oitreg/activid/proyectos/ipec/doc/fichas/fichauruguay.doc.

4342 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78908.htm. Section 6d.

4343 U.S. Department of State, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 27, 2007.

4344 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Uruguay, accessed August 28, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay," Section 5.

4345 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Uruguay.

4346 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay." Section 5.

4347 Ibid., Section 5.

4348 Ibid.

4349 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65990.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, E-mail communication to USDOL Official, September 20, 2006.

4350 Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia en Uruguay, Article 162.

4351 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay," Section 6d.

4352 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61744.htm.

4353 State, E-mail communication, July 27, 2007.

4354 ILO, NATLEX National Labour Law Database, [online] [cited September 8, 2006]; available from http://www.mtss.gub.uy/indice.htm.

4355 Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia en Uruguay, Article 173.

4356 Ibid., Article 176. See also Criminal Code of Uruguay, (1986), Article 279B; available from http://www.unifr.ch/derechopenal/legislacion/uy/cp_uruguay.htm.

4357 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay," Section 6d.

4358 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 5 and 6; available from http://www.parlamento.gub.uy/Leyes/Ley17815.htm.

4359 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook – Uruguay, [online] September 19, 2006 [cited September 25 2006]; available from https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uy.html.

4360 The National Institute for Adolescents and Children (INAU) was formerly known as the National Institute for Minors (INAME). See also Código de la niñéz y la adolescencia en Uruguay, Articles 68 and 223. See also Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, Comite nacional para la Erradicacion del Trabajo Infantil, [online] [cited September 25 2006]; available from http://www.mtss.gub.uy/marnews.htm.

4361 See U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, reporting, September 2004, para 4.

4362 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay," Section 6d.

4363 Ibid.

4364 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Uruguay."

4365 U.S. Department of State, "Uruguay (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005, Washington, DC, June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46616.htm.

4366 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay," Section 5.

4367 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Uruguay."

4368 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports-2006: Uruguay." See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Uruguay."

4369 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Uruguay."

4370 The 5-year program was funded in November 2002. See IDB, Uruguay: Comprehensive Program for At-risk Children, Adolescents and Families, UR-134, 2002, 2; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/doc98/apr/ur1434e.pdf. See also IDB, Approved Projects – Uruguay, [online] [cited September 15, 2006]; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/doc98/apr/lcuru.htm.

4371 UNICEF, At a Glance: Uruguay, [online] [cited September 25, 2006]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/uruguay.html.

Search Refworld

Countries