Children's rights

Child labour in gastronomic services is common in many tourist destinations. Numerous children and young people work in family-owned restaurants or earn money informally in restaurants, cafes, teashops, beach shacks etc. as waiters, kitchen helpers, dishwashers or cleaners. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) differentiates between legitimate child work, which often describes children’s or adolescents’ support in a family business that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, and unacceptable child labour, which deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, interferes with their schooling, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.

Working in restaurants, children can be exposed to various hazards and risks, such as lack of physical safety conditions, physically demanding work with long hours of standing and carrying heavy loads, overtime work, night shifts as well as work under time pressure, and a noisy and stressful working environment. Depending on the working environment, children are particularly vulnerable to verbal, physical or sexual violence and harassments.

Child labour: Nepal
Child labour violations: U.S.
Child trafficking and labour: India
Child labour: Nepal

Even though it is illegal, child labour is widespread in Nepal. The National Child Labour report estimates that about 1,6 million children between 5 and 17 are in the work force. Children mostly work in factories and restaurant services, as domestic helpers or in the transportation sector. They are often sent to work because their families live in poverty and need them to contribute to their income.

Child labour violations: U.S.

Burger King was accused of violating state child labour laws by employing minors who worked too long, too late and without proper work permits. The Attorney General working on the case states: “Many fast food employees are young, working their first jobs, and do not know their rights. It’s important that this major national Burger King franchisee, which employs a number of young people, complies with child labour laws and ensures that minors are safe in its restaurants.”

Child trafficking and labour: India

Child labour numbers down in Mumbay food industry after crackdown on youngsters being trafficked into city

Children who have been trafficked into Mumbai have been forced to work on roadside food stalls or railway platforms. After joint and increased efforts by the police, NGOs and the government, the number of child workers in restaurants, grocery stores, and food stalls was observed to have significantly decreased.

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Take action

Policy and process 

  • Integrate clauses on young workers/child labour in to contracts / Supplier Code of Conduct with restaurants. 

Supplier assessment

  • Check if young workers in the restaurants receive special protection and perform second- and third-party audits to monitor and prevent the occurrence of abusive child labour.

Grievance mechanism: 

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.