A 13-year-old child came to my house looking for work as a house help because she badly needs a job. Her family can’t make ends meet. She told me they sleep hungry most times. The law forbids employment of children. What should I do? Julia
The law prohibits the employment of children. Under section 32 (1) of the Employment Act 2006, the law specifically states; “a child under the age of 12 years shall not be employed in any business, undertaking or workplace”.
Given the above you have little room to do anything else other than to say no to the child’s request. I suggest you have an open and frank discussion with both the child and her parents and let them know you are not allowed to employ the young child. I appreciate the parents may not see it as being a problem, because other people may well be employing children, however the law prohibits this sort of arrangement.
Furthermore, your conscious will probably not allow you to do the same. As an alternative to support the family, you could consider offering employment to one of the parents who is currently not working. This would necessitate the family re-organising their domestic set up so there is always a parent or adult with the child in the event both parents are working.
Considering this option means you are helping the family earn wages that will go towards supporting their upkeep as well as ensuring money is available to help the child go to school.
You need to bear in mind, the family may not take up your offer of alternative employment and may still seek ways to have their child employed.
Bear in mind you have no control over the parents decision and the best you can do is do the right things and follow the law.
Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)