ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour, 1999

Child labour, as the statistics clearly demonstrate, is a problem of immense global proportions. Following its comprehensive research into the issue, the ILO concluded that it was necessary to strengthen existing Conventions on child labour. Convention No. 182 helped to focus the international spotlight on the urgency of action to eliminate as a priority, the worst forms of child labour without losing the long term goal of the effective elimination of all child labour.

ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment and work

One of the most effective methods of ensuring that children do not start working too young is to set the age at which children can legally be employed or otherwise work. The main principles of the ILO’s Convention concerning the minimum age of admission to employment and work are in the table below.


The minimum age at which children can start work.

Possible exceptions for developing countries

Hazardous work
Any work which is likely to jeopardize children’s physical, mental or moral heath, safety or morals should not be done by anyone under the age of 18.

(16 under strict conditions)

(16 under strict conditions)

Basic Minimum Age
The minimum age for work should not be below the age for finishing compulsory schooling, and in any case not less than 15.



Light work
Children between the ages of 13 and 15 years old may do light work, as long as it does not threaten their health and safety, or hinder their education or vocational orientation and training.



ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

Both Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 are fundamental Conventions. Under the ILO Declaration, even the member States that have not yet ratified these Conventions should respect, promote and realize the principles.