COVID-19 is not an excuse to employ children below the age of 16.
This warning comes from the Labour Ministry, which says the employment of children below 16 years, including migrant children, is illegal and punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and three years imprisonment.
According to the Children Act, Chap 46:01, Section 105: children under the age of 16 are not to be employed or work in any public or private undertaking, other than an undertaking owned and controlled by members of their family.
Even then however, it reminds that school has reopened, and no child should be denied an education.
The Ministry says while it empathizes with parents and guardians experiencing economic challenges due to the pandemic, child labour should not be an option.
It is instead urging them to access available support services.
Citizens are also being urged to report instances of child labor to:
- The Labour Inspectorate Unit, Ministry of Labour: 299-0300 option 3
- ChildLine: 131 or 800-4321
- Counter Trafficking Unit: 800-4288
- Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA): 623-6742
- Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago: 996