Child Labour Today


  • Globally, 1 in 6 children work
  • 218 million children aged 5 - 17 are involved in child labour world wide
  • 126 million children work in hazardous conditions
  • The highest numbers of child labourers are in the Asia/Pacific region, where there are 122 million working children
  • The highest proportion of child labourers is in Sub Saharan Africa, where 26% of children (49 million) are involved in work.


  • Labour that is performed by a child who is under the minimum age specified for that kind of work (as defined by national legislation, in accordance with accepted international standards), and that is thus likely to impede the child's education and full development.
  • Labour that jeopardizes the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child, either because of its nature or because of the conditions in which it is carried out, known as hazardous work.
  • The unconditional worst forms of child labour, which are internationally defined as slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, and illicit activities.


       Children aged 5–14 engaged in child labour (%), by region (1999-2008)

          Children aged 5–14 engaged in child labour (%), by gender (1999–2008)

     Percentage of children aged 5–14 years engaged in child labour (2003-2008)


  • Minors under 16 years old must obtain a work permit before beginning a job.

                ~In order to apply for a work permit, the minor must be:

                           -enrolled in school;

                           -not habitually truant or under suspension; and

                           -passing a majority of courses during the current grading period.

  • Maximum Hours for Children Under 16

                           -3 hours a day on school days, including Fridays

                           -18 hours in any week during a school week

                           -40 hours in a week with no school

                           -8 hours on days without school (during weekends, holidays, vacations, storm days, etc.)

                           -No more than 6 days in a row

  • There is no minimum age under Maine law to work in nonhazardous jobs in children's camps, hospitals, nursing homes, municipalities, domestic work in or about a private home or in the planting, cultivating or harvesting of field crops in agriculture.