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Any work performed by a child which deprives them of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.


Webpage of the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)


  • BG: детски труд
  • CS: dětská práce
  • DE: Kinderarbeit
  • EL: παιδική εργασία
  • EN: child labour
  • ES: trabajo infantil
  • ET: lapstööjõu kasutamine
  • FI: lapsityö
  • FR: travail des enfants
  • GA: fostú leanaí
  • HU: gyerekmunka
  • IT: lavoro infantile
  • LT: vaikų darbas
  • LV: bērnu darbs
  • MT: Tħaddim ta’ tfal / ta’ minorenni / Sfruttament ta’ xogħol it-tfal
  • NL: kinderarbeid
  • PL: praca dzieci
  • PT: trabalho infantil
  • RO: munca pentru copii
  • SK: detská práca
  • SL: delo otrok
  • SV: barnarbete
  • NO: barnearbeid
  • KA: ბავშვის შრომა
  • UK: дитяча праця

Broader Term(s)

Related Term(s)


1. The definition does allow for a child to work (e.g. in a shop outside school hours) as long as it does not conflict with the above. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and interferes with their schooling by:
- depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
- obliging them to leave school prematurely; or 
requiring them to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
2. The ILO Convention No 138 specifies 15 years as the age above which, in normal circumstances, a person may participate in economic activity. According to Art. 32 of the Charter of Fundamentals Rights of the European Union, the employment of children is prohibited. The minimum age of admission to employment may not be lower than the minimum school-leaving age, without prejudice to such rules as may be more favourable to young people and except for limited derogations.
3. Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. The ILO distinguishes between ‘child work’ and ‘child labour’, the latter being used to describe the more pejorative part of ‘child work’, whereas ‘child work’ in itself could include doing light household chores and, as long as it does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, can actually have some learning value.