The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation Bill) Act, 1986, allowing children below 14 years of age to work but in safe environment and the timing should not affect their studies.
"Striking a balance between the need for education for a child and the reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country, the Cabinet has approved that a child can help his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupation or process, after his school hours or during vacation," The Economic Times cited an excerpt from the statement.
"Also, an exception has been made for a child working as artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, except the circus, provided that the school education of the child is not affected," the statement said.
Citing the reasons to legalise child labour in select enterprises, a government official said that it will help a child in skill development and move them towards entrepreneurship.
"We don't want to redraw the social fabric of Indian society where children learn by participating in work with family elders. We, instead, want to encourage learning work at home as it leads to entrepreneurship," the Hindustan Times quoted a government official as saying.
The amendment also seeks a complete ban on the employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and the adolescents – children in the age group of 14 to 18 – are banned from working in hazardous sectors.
If the terms in the amended Act are violated, both parents and employer will be subjected to punishment under the law. While parents won't be punished for their first offence, the employer would have to face penalty right after the first violation.
Parents, after repeating the offence, will have to pay ₹10, 000 penalty, while the employer will pay a fine of ₹50,000. On repeating the offence, employer will then face a punishment of one year in jail, with a provision for extension to three years.