The kind of work a child mustn’t do

For a country to develop, every citizen must do their part regarding work. In Rwanda, work is recognised as an important issue to the extent that it is included in the motto. But while labour is good, regulation is important to protect the wellbeing of citizens. N° 66/2018 of 30/08/2018 Law Regulating Labour in Rwanda was instituted for this reason.

Article 5 of the Law Regulating Labour in Rwanda establishes the minimum age at which a person can be admitted to employment at the age of 16. However, there is a provision for children between ages 13 and 15 to perform light work in the context of apprenticeship.

The definition of “light work”, according to article 3 paragraph 26 of the Law Regulating Labour in Rwanda, is: “a work which cannot have a detrimental effect on a child’s health, child development and child’s education or other aspects of a child’s life interest.”

In light of this, article 6 of the Law Regulating Labour in Rwanda prohibits subjecting children under the age of 18 to forms of work which are physically harmful, underground work, underwater work or work at dangerous heights, or in confined spaces.

Furthermore, it is illegal for a child to work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools or to do work which involves manual handling or transportation of heavy loads. A child must also not work in environments which expose him/her to temperatures, noise levels or vibrations which are damaging to his/her health.

Article 6 of the Law Regulating Labour in Rwanda also illegalises subjecting a child to long working hours or working during the night, or working in confined spaces.

Forced labour is forbidden under the Law Regulating Labour in Rwanda. In this regard, article 7 of the law says; “It is prohibited to impose forced labour, permit the imposition thereof or accept, whether directly or indirectly, that a person be subjected to forced labour.”

The exception to this rule is work, which is performed in relation to laws governing mandatory military service, and work performed during training relating to civic and patriotic education. Additionally, work imposed through a court order and is controlled through a competent public authority is not considered as forced labour.

Work which is imposed during emergency, siege or emergency disasters is also not forced labour.

The new law repeals Law n° 13/2009 of 27/05/2009 Regulating Labour in Rwanda in its entirety save for article 163.

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