Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2017, 09:21 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Tunisia

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 - Tunisia, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 19 October 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 Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years (%):
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:108.3
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:96.1
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:96.7
ILO Convention 138:10/19/1995
ILO Convention 182:2/28/2000
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Tunisia, children work in the informal sector, especially in the production of handicrafts. Older girls work as domestic servants. Children also work in small shops, as mechanics, and selling jasmine to tourists. There have been reports of children being trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and labor.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is 16 years, with some exceptions. Children 13 years and above may perform light work. They may also begin working as apprentices or through vocational training programs at 14 years. Children younger than 16 years may work in family businesses, as long as their work does not negatively affect their mental or physical health or interfere with school. This exception does not apply to hazardous work and legislation does not provide a minimum age for this exception. The minimum age for hazardous work is 18 years, and the Ministry of Social Affairs has the authority to determine which jobs fall under this category. The law restricts nonagricultural night work by prohibiting children under 14 years from working between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and children between 14 and 18 years from working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Children working in the agriculture industry must have fixed rest periods and cannot work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Children working in the nonagricultural sector may not be paid less than 85 percent of the salary paid to adults.

Labor inspectors from the Ministry of Social Affairs are responsible for enforcing labor laws. The Ministry of Women's Affairs, Family, Children, and Senior Citizens, and the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Physical Training are responsible for protecting children's rights, with a body of Child Protection Delegates answerable to the former and based in each governorate of the country. According to reports received by USDOS, overlapping responsibilities among various ministries, lack of resources, and cultural sensitivities sometimes limit the application of these laws.

Forced labor is prohibited under the law. Although the law does not specifically prohibit trafficking, traffickers may be prosecuted under laws prohibiting forced labor, prostitution, participation in armed conflict, or displacement. Convicted traffickers are subject to fines and may be sentenced to prison for 3 to 20 years. The law protects children from abuse and exploitation, including participation in wars or armed conflicts, prostitution, and hazardous labor conditions. The law clarifies that sexual exploitation includes prostitution or any other form of sexual deviation, including commercial sexual exploitation of children. Both child prostitution and the act of selling a child or a spouse are punishable by 3 to 5 years' imprisonment and fines.

The minimum age for voluntary military service is 18 years, and 20 years for compulsory recruitment.

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

In 2008, the Government of Tunisia worked with UNICEF to draft a report on street children that is expected to be released in 2009 after the writing of this report.

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