10 February 2010

Regulations on hazardous work by children in South Africa

In terms of a Government Gazette dated 15 January 2010, the Minister of Labour published Regulations on hazardous work by children in South Africa. The Regulations were published in terms of section 44 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA). In terms of the Regulations a "child worker" is defined as a person under the age of 18 who is employed by or works for an employer and who receives or entitled to receive any remuneration. In terms of the BCEA, it is unlawful to employ a child under the age of 15 years. The Regulations accordingly apply to employees between the ages of 15 and 18 years.

Section 3 of the Regulations enjoins an employer who provides work to child workers to undertake a risk assessment process which must include inter alia identifying the risks and hazards to which any child worker maybe exposed; analyzing and evaluating the risks and hazards that identified; preparing and implementing a documented plan of safe work procedure to remove, mitigate, reduce or control the risks or hazards which have been identified; and to prepare and implement a monitoring plan. The Regulations furthermore regulate the employment of child workers in an environment which may constitute a respiratory hazard, work in an elevated position, the lifting of heavy weights, working in hot and cold environments, working in a noisy environment and those employees who are required to utilize power tools, cutting or grinding equipment.

In terms of Section 11, a labour inspector who finds a child worker being employed or used in contravention of either the Occupational Health and Safety Act or of the Regulations, shall refer the child for investigation to a child protection organization designated in terms of the Children's Act, unless the labour inspector is satisfied that the child will not suffer any detriment due to steps being taken by the inspector to ensure compliance with the law.

In terms of Section 12, any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of the Regulations shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period of twelve months and, in the case of a continuing offence, to an additional fine of R200.00 or to an additional imprisonment for each day on which the offence continues. Section 13 of the Regulations furthermore makes it compulsory for every employer to display a copy of the Regulations where it can be read by employees including child workers employed at the workplace. Regulations shall come into effect on 7 February 2010, being twenty-one days after the date of publication in the Government Gazette.

Gavin Stansfield
Director, Employment

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