Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 07:52 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Chile

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 - Chile, 27 August 2008, available at: [accessed 13 December 2017]
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 Labor745
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2003:3.5
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2003:4.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2003:2.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2003:
     – Agriculture24.7
     – Manufacturing6.6
     – Services66.6
     – Other2
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:17-18
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:104
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:90
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2003:97.2
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:100
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Chile, child labor is mainly a problem in the informal sector. Children in urban areas work as baggers in supermarkets and wait tables in restaurants. They also sell goods on the street, care for parked automobiles, and assist in construction activities. Children in rural areas are involved in harvesting, collecting and selling crops, and caring for farm animals.746

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a problem in Chile, especially in urban areas.747 Most victims of commercial sexual exploitation have been trafficked internally. Some children are also trafficked internationally for labor and sexual exploitation.748

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment without restrictions at 18 years. Under legislation passed in 2007, children 15 to 18 years may only perform light work that will not affect their health or school attendance, and only with parental permission.749 Children between 15 and 18 years must also have documentation of enrollment or completion of secondary education to work. If the child has not completed secondary schooling, he or she may not work more than 30 hours per week during the school year, and the work day may not exceed 8 hours.750 Children under 18 years are also not permitted to work at night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., with the exception of work in a family business. Children under 15 years may only work in artistic events with the permission of parents and local authorities.751 In September 2007, Chile established a list of 23 types of work that are dangerous due to their nature, and four types of work that are dangerous due to their conditions. Dangerous work includes work with explosives; work that involves repetitive movements; work with dangerous substances or equipment; work at sea, underwater, or underground; work in establishments that sell alcohol, tobacco, or exhibit sexually explicit material; and work that requires crossing country borders or transporting valuable goods or money.752

Chilean laws prohibit slavery and forced labor.753 The trafficking of a minor across national boundaries for the purpose of sexual exploitation is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison.754 The prostitution of children is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison, with penalties of up to 20 years in the case of involvement of family members or authorities. The law establishes punishments for the production, sale, importation, exportation, distribution, and exhibition of pornography using minors.755 The minimum age for compulsory military service in Chile is 18 years. The voluntary recruitment age is 17 years with parental permission, and is 16 years in exceptional circumstances.756 The UNCRC urged Chile to increase the minimum age for military service to 18 years in all circumstances.757

The Ministry of Interior coordinates efforts to combat trafficking in persons with NGOs and other government agencies. The Public Ministry takes the lead on issues related to the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in persons.758 Not all forms of trafficking in persons are criminalized in Chile, such as internal trafficking and trafficking for labor exploitation.759

The Ministry of Labor enforces labor laws, and USDOS reports that Chile is allocating considerable resources and oversight to child labor policies. Between January and October 2007, there were 343 new cases of the worst forms of child labor registered.760

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

As part of its National Policy on Childhood (2001-2010), the Government of Chile has adopted a national child labor action plan that focuses on raising awareness; collecting data; promoting legislative reform in compliance with ILO conventions; developing targeted intervention programs; and conducting ongoing monitoring and evaluation.761

The Government of Chile participated in an ILO-IPEC USDOL-funded USD 5.5 million regional project to eliminate exploitive child labor in the domestic service and in commercial sex sectors in four countries including Chile.762 The project ended in 2007, withdrawing 2,036 children from exploitive work and preventing 3,582 children from entering such activities.763 The Government of Chile also participated in two regional projects, a Phase II USD 2.6 million and a Phase III USD 3 million project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain.764

Based on the list of hazardous types of work for children and adolescents, the Ministry of Justice's Service for Minors maintains a register of documented worst forms of child labor cases, with input from the Chilean police and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.765 However, the UNCRC has recommended that Chile strengthen prevention measures and law enforcement to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children.766 The Service for Minors works with its 105 local offices, international organizations, local NGOs, and neighboring countries to ensure that children rescued from trafficking are not returned to high-risk and abusive situations.767 The Service for Minors also set up a toll-free helpline for children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.768 The Government also collaborated with neighboring countries to ensure safe repatriation of trafficking victims. The Government's Service for Minors oversees 15 projects to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children.769

The Government of Chile 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 domestic legal frameworks to international standards on those issues; and the exchange of best practices related to victim protection and assistance.770

745 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 Chile, Código del Trabajo de Chile, (November 15, 2007), article 13; available from See also Government of Chile, Constitución Política de 1980 incluidas las Reformas hasta el 2005, (2005), article 19 No. 10; available from See also Embassy of Chile official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 14, 2008.

746 ILO-IPEC and Ministry of Work and Social Provision, Trabajo infantíl y adolescente en cifras: Síntesis de la primera encuesta nacional y registro de sus peores formas, ILO-IPEC, Santiago, 2004, 17; available from See also U.S. Department of State, "Chile," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from

747 ILO-IPEC, Estudio de la explotación sexual comercial infantíl y adolescente en Chile, Lima, 2004, 43; available from

748 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Chile," section 5.

749 Government of Chile, Código del Trabajo, article 13.

750 Ibid.

751 Ibid., articles 15 and 18.

752 Government of Chile, Aprueba Reglamento para la aplicación del artículo 13 del Código del Trabajo, (September 11, 2007); available from %202007%20Reglamento%20Menores.pdf.

753 Government of Chile, Constitución Política, article 19, no. 2. See also Government of Chile, Código del Trabajo, article 2.

754 Government of Chile, Código Penal de la República de Chile, (March 1, 1875), article 367; available from

755 Ibid., articles 30, 367. See also Government of Chile, Modifica el Codigo Penal, El Codigo de Procedimiento Penal, y el Codigo Procesal Penal en Materia de Delitos de Pornografia Infantil, 19,927, (January 5, 2004); available from See also El Senado de la República de Chile, Sesión 74a, Ordinaria, en martes 11 de diciembre de 2007, [online] December 13, 2007 [cited March 14, 2008]; available from

756 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Chile," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from

757 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, February 1, 2008; available from

758 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Chile," section 5.

759 U.S. Department of State, "Chile (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from

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

761 Comisión Nacional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantíl and ILO-IPEC, Plan de Prevención y Erradicación Progresiva del Trabajo Infantíl y Adolescente en Chile, Lima, 2001; available from See also Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Contexto en Chile y el mundo, [online] 2007 [cited December 11, 2007]; available from

762 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and elimination of child domestic labour (CDL) and of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, Project Document, Geneva, 2004.

763 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and elimination of child domestic labour (CDL) and of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 12, 2007, 54.

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

765 Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Sistema de registro, [online] [cited December 12, 2007]; available from

766 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports of States Parties: Chile, para 69.

767 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Chile," section 6d. See also IOM, Estudio exploratorio sobre Trata de personas con fines de explotación sexual en Argentina, Chile y Uruguay, December 2006; available from %202006.pdf.

768 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports of States Parties: Chile, para. 36.

769 U.S. Embassy – Santiago, reporting, November 30, 2007.

770 Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, Iniciativa Niñ@ Sur, [online] [cited March 16, 2008]; available from See also Child Rights Information Network, MERCOSUR, [online] 2007 [cited December 26, 2007]; available from

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