The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986


The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, prohibits children from working in certain occupations and regulates their conditions of work in others (including permitted working hours, rest and holidays). The Act lays down rules for those employing children as well as penalties for their unlawful employment.

This Act, which defines a child as a person under 14, was amended by The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016. The amendment prohibits the employment of children between 6 and 14 in any occupation or process (except two), and introduces the category of ‘adolescents’ (those in the 14-18 age group), who are prohibited from working in ‘hazardous occupations and processes’ that are defined in the Factories Act, 1948


  1. Which occupations are prohibited for children under this Act?

    The schedule at the end of this Act lists 83 occupations and processes in which children under 14 cannot work. They include work in the railways, ports, slaughterhouses, firecrackers and explosives industries, mining, and several manufacturing processes.

  2. What should a child’s working hours be?

    The Act stipulates fixed working hours for children in occupations not forbidden by section 3 and the schedule. The Act says that after three hours of labour, a child must have at least an hour of rest. A child’s period of work cannot exceed six hours, including rest intervals and time spent waiting for work, and children cannot work between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. or overtime. Also, a child can only work in one establishment in a day, and children are entitled to a holiday of an entire day each week.

  3. What regulations must a child’s employer follow?

    An establishment employing a child must send the local Inspector (in whose jurisdiction the establishment is located) a written notice with the following information – the establishment’s name, address, the name of a person in a managerial position, and the nature of the establishment’s work. This notice must be sent within thirty days of the employment of the child.

    The employer must also maintain a register of the children working in his or her establishment. It should have their names, dates of birth, hours of work, and the nature of their work.

    Railway and port authorities as well as other employers must display in an accessible place the abstracts of sections 3 and 14 of this Act, which list prohibited occupations and processes for children and penalties for violating the provisions of this Act.

    The government can make rules for the health and safety of children employed in any establishment. These rules can pertain to cleanliness, dust, lighting, ventilation, temperature, disposal of waste, precaution against fire, protection of the eyes and so on. 

  4. What are the penalties for violating the provisions of this Act?

    Anyone who violates the Act’s provisions can be imprisoned for up to a month or fined up to Rs. 10,000 or both. Anyone who employs a child or allows him or her to do work prohibited by the Act can be imprisoned for three months to a year or be fined Rs. 10,000-20,000 or both. A person who violates the Act’s provisions more than once can face imprisonment for six months to two years.

    Focus and Factoids by Keiu Kikas.


Ministry of Law and Justice


Government of India, New Delhi    


23 Dec, 1986