Child Labor Laws in Pakistan: A Comprehensive Guide

Child labor laws in Pakistan: a comprehensive guide


Child Labor in Pakistan

One of the most prevalent social evils that has to be addressed immediately, is the child labor. Since its inception, Pakistan has made significant progress in addressing the issue through legislation, policy, and programmatic measures. Article 11 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 forbids any form of slavery. In addition, Article 11 (2) of the Constitution also prohibits all forms of forced labor. 

Consequent to the 18th Constitutional Amendment, legislation on and implementation of all labor-related laws and matters, including child labor, are domain of the provincial governments. Such jurisdiction, to the extent of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), lies with the Directorate of Labor under the ICT Administration. Under the Rules of Business, 1973, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development has the mandate to keep a watch on labor laws from an international perspective. 

Legislative Framework

The Employment of Children Act, 1991

This is a law that prohibits the employment of children in certain occupations and regulates the conditions of work of children. Additionally, the said law also proposes a “National Committee on the Rights of the Child” to be constituted comprised of a chairman and 10 other experts of high moral standing to perform the functions visualized in article 43 of the UNCRC. Besides, the Act provides that the hours of work in the establishment should not exceed 3 hours, and after this time, 1 hour rest is mandatory. The law also proposes penalties for the contravention of the provisions of this Act. Moreover, schedule of the Act provides the following details of occupations and processes.

The Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1992

The Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act 1992 provides for the abolition of the bonded labor system with a view to preventing the economic and physical exploitation of the labor class in the country. In this Act, section 16 can trial such offenses and any offense under this Act is cognizable and bailable. 

However, section 15 of the Act allows to constitute a Vigilance Committees at the district level. The committee may comprises of elected representatives of the area, representatives of the District Administration, Bar associations, Press, recognized Social Services, and the Labor Department of the Government. So, the said committee has functions to advise the District Administration on matters relating to the effective implementation of the law. Also, it ensures its implementation in a proper manner, help in the rehabilitation of the freed bonded laborer, and keep an eye on the working of the law, etc.

The Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act 2016

The purpose for enactment of law was to prohibit the employment of children and to restrict the employment of adolescents in certain occupations. In accordance with section 3, Any occupier cannot employ or permit a child to work in the establishment (any industrial, commercial, or agricultural establishment, factory, mine, workshop, business, trade, undertaking, and place where any economic activity, including molding and manufacturing process, is carried on; and, includes charitable and welfare organizations, whether run for profit or otherwise and any other establishment, class of establishments or workplace). 

Moreover, an occupier shall not employ or permit an adolescent to perform any hazardous work in the establishment. In this Act, Provincial Committee on Child Labor can advise the Government on appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the eradication of child labor. Subsequently, section 5 of the Act describes the duration of work, etc., for children and adolescents. Thus, children (below 14 years) and an adolescent (age 14 to 18 years) may not allow for hazardous work in the establishment. The Act also states that employers must give at least one complete holiday in a week. In addition, he may provide rest intervals to children and adolescents after 3 hours of work.

The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Ordinance, 2016 

It provides for the appointment of an inspector or confers the powers of an inspector on any person from any local area . The designated person can enter any place which is, or which he has reason to believe to be a brick kiln. He can lodge a complaint to the officer in charge of a police station of the area to take cognizance of the offense. Under the Act, District Vigilance Committees, constituted in all the Districts of the Punjab under the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1992 works as a monitoring mechanism. 

The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017 

The law provides for upto six months imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs50,000 for the offenders. If a child employs for a hazardous job, the prison term can extends up to three years with a Rs100,000 fine. This Act also repeals the Employment of Children Act, 1991 (Act No. V of 1991) in its application to the extent of the Province of the Sindh.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 2015

The promulgation of the Act aims at providing for the abolition of the bonded labor system. Under this Act, the appointment of inspectors to monitor and work for the promotion of freed bonded laborers can make. In case, a person found rendering bonded labor is liable to imprisonment of up to five years and to pay a fine not less than fifty thousand.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2015

The purpose of enacting the law was to prohibit the employment of children and to regulate the work of adolescents in certain occupations and processes. The law states that no child shall be employed in any establishment. It also states that child not below the age of 12 may be engaged in light work alongside his family for a maximum of two hours a day. Under this Act, a committee on child labor consisting of a Chairman and seven other members, including government employees, workers, and civil society. The purpose of the committee is to advising the government on appropriate legislative and administrative measures to curb child labor.


In conclusion, the child labor laws available to address any issue always require policy initiatives to translate the legislation into practical actions. On the other hand, the Complexity of child labor in Pakistan requires a multifaceted and systematic analysis. While the legal framework available to address the issue of child labor, is crucial, influenced by societal shifts, economic reforms, and development initiatives. To implement child labor related laws, the Government of Pakistan initiated various labor policies in recent times. Thus, collective, coordinated, and comprehensive efforts can ensure that every child can enjoy their childhood and get the proper development opportunities. 

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