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Fairtrade combats child labor

Child labor is work that is harmful to a child’s health and wellbeing, and/or interferes with their education, leisure and development. This complex issue affects children all over the world—especially in agriculture.

Rooted in poverty

Child labor can be caused by many things. Limited access to quality education, natural disasters, conflict and discrimination are just a few. However, poverty is a key driver in this injustice. When families can’t earn a decent living from their crops and youth lack decent employment opportunities, ending child labor remains very difficult.

Fairtrade works in products and regions where child labor is prevalent because that is where our work is needed most.

We fight the root causes of child labor and prevent the abuse and exploitation of children.

Fairtrade prohibits child labor

We take a youth-centered approach to ending child labor. We collaborate with many different groups (farmers, workers, producer organizations, local governments, etc.) because we know we can’t do it alone.

The Fairtrade Standards state that children:

  • Below the age of 15 are not to be employed by Fairtrade producer organizations.
  • Below the age of 18 cannot undertake work that jeopardizes their education or development.
  • Are only allowed to help on family farms under strict conditions. The work must be age-appropriate and be done outside of school hours or during holidays.
  • In regions with a high likelihood of child labor, small producer organizations are encouraged to include a mitigation and elimination plan.
  • If an organization has identified child labor as a risk, the organization must implement policies and procedures to prevent children from being employed.

Fairtrade Standards prohibit child labor, but no person or product certification system can provide a 100% guarantee that a product is free of child labor.

If Fairtrade finds breaches to our child labor requirements, we take immediate action to protect the impacted child or children in collaboration with national child protection agencies and/or child rights organizations.

We work with producer organizations to strengthen their systems and programs to prevent and address child labor. Failure to have adequate systems in place leads to suspension and then decertification if not addressed.

Young people are part of the solution

We recognize that standards and auditing will not solve child labor alone.

We take a youth-inclusive approach to addressing child labor where young people and their communities work together to tackle this problem. We use an approach where children and youth identify risks to their well-being and map where the feel safe and unsafe. With the adults in their community, they design preventative projects to respond.

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