Essay Paper on Child Labour Regulations
by Jeffrey Solen
Speaking generally, the view of the European Council on child labour and basic education is such that each child should be provided with full-time education. Therefore, strict regulations have been introduced to limit the work by children. Education for every child is considered to be a crucial step in increasing the standard of living and elimination of poverty. It is therefore significant in the view of the European Council that the children primarily concentrate on education rather than work activities.
The latest data show that in the world millions of children are involved in work and are therefore deprived of the benefits of full-time education. In this light the concern of the European Council about children working instead of studying is quite understandable. According to the Article 32 of the European Union Directive, education is viewed as fundamental right to be protected by the State. Article 32 also states that the State should provide protection to children against any kind of work, which could do them harm, produce damage to their health, spiritual or physical development.
The Article 32 explicitly states that child labor is prohibited. The minimum age of children, qualified for employment should be equal to the school-leaving age. The minimum age principle was introduced to ensure the right of training and education for children, which is attributed much importance to. According to the abovementioned Article 32, when the children, who comply with the age restrictions, are eventually admitted to work, the corresponding working conditions should be created for them.
The states-members of the European Union are obliged to exercise ultimate protection of children from any kind of exploitation or work, detrimental to their education. Employment, potentially dangerous to their health or morals is strictly prohibited.
At this point it seems opportune to look closely at the case of The National Theatre of Oria intending to employ several children thirteen years of age and older in order for them to perform in the play “Peter Pan”. The theatre administration fears unfavorable decision of the Children’s Employment Board regarding their application. This fear is quite understandable taking into the consideration the fact that a similar precedent has already taken place. On the one hand, the motives of the Theatre officials are clear – the integrity and success of the performance directly depends on the children being of the same age as they are depicted in the play. However, as it was the case previously, the Children’s Employment Board may reject the application based on the fact that participation in the theatrical performance may jeopardize children’s school attendance. The Board may even bring up possible risk to the children’s health. Therefore, there is a quite tangible possibility of the Children’s Employment Board rejecting the application filed by the National Theatre of Oria.
However, if in the previous case, related to the performance of the Christmas Pantomime, the decision of the Children’s Board of Education was not appealed, in this very case there is every reason to do so. If rejected by the Board, which is very likely, the application should be further forwarded to the Labour Tribunal. While the Children’s Board of Education is not eligible to make a referral to the Court of Justice, it is in the capacity of the Labour Tribunal. In this case the arguments of the Labour Tribunal could be contradictory: on the one hand the Article 32 prohibits child labour, however, a number of exceptions are listed in the Article as well. Cultural and artistic activities are among them. It stands to reason that even those activities could cause interruption of attendance, which is out of the question if employment should be allowed. But on the other hand, it is most likely that instead of causing any harm the children, their participation in the play will contribute to their social and mental development.
The question is whether the Labour tribunal will decide that it is necessary to ask the Court of Justice for clarification of the Directive. In order for the Court of Justice to accept the request for referral, it should comply with a number of regulations: firstly, the question should be relevant, that is the ruling of the Supreme Court should be able to change the outcome of the case. Secondly, the interpretation requested should have a relation to real facts. Thirdly, the problem should not be hypothetical. Fourthly, sufficient legal and factual material should be supplied in order for an adequate ruling to be issued. Therefore, the considerations of the Labour Tribunal would be tied to the abovementioned general requirements of the Court of Justice. All aspects included the case under consideration seems to be perfectly adequate to be sent for referral. An additional motivation for the Labour Tribunal to request interpretation from the Court of Justice would be the possibility of such cases arising again. Therefore, the preliminary ruling would be of great use further on for assessment of similar cases.
It has been established that the ultimate duty of The Court of Justice is to interpret the laws and make sure they are applied correctly. Any tribunal or national court, which is faced with the necessity to resolve a dispute or evaluate an appeal, which involved community law, can at its own discretion and sometimes must refer to the Court of Justice in order to receive the preliminary ruling. The legality of the directive is then reviewed by the Court of Justice. The decisions made by local judicial institutions are also evaluated. Mention must be made of the fact that the Court of Justice is not eligible to question the considerations of National courts to make a referral. The interpretation is given and it is to be applied by the National court.
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