Minors and Youth

Minimum Age for Employment

The minimum age for employment is 12 years. A child (under 12 years) cannot be employed to work in any capacity except where in a family enterprise on light work of an agricultural, horticultural or domestic nature approved by the Government. A child must not be required to lift, carry or move anything so heavy as to injure his physical development.  

Young person under fourteen years of age can be employed on daily wage and day to day basis, except where they are employed in domestic service. They must be employed on a day to day basis, be paid their daily wage, and return to their residence place.

Minimum age for employment in industrial undertakings is 15 years however this cut-off age is not applicable to the work done by young persons in technical schools or similar institutions if the work is approved and supervised by the relevant government department (Ministry of Education).

Young persons, under the age of sixteen, may not be employed to work underground or on machine work or on public holiday. They are prohibited to work in circumstance where they are unable to return to their residence place except with the approval of the authorized Labour Officer or Where the employment is evidenced by a written contract that conforms to the requirements of the Labour Act with respect to a contract of employment.

Minimum age of compulsory education in 15 years. According to the constitution, State is responsible to eradicate illiteracy by providing free educational opportunities at all levels. In accordance with the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act & Child’s Rights Act, Government in Nigeria should provide free, compulsory and universal education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age. Parents must also ensure that their children complete their basic education.

Source: §18 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, §59(1-5) of the Labour Act (Cap L1 LFN 2004); §2 & 15 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, 2004; §15 & 28-29 of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Minimum age for the hazardous work is eighteen years. Employees who are under 18 are not allowed to work for four hours consecutively and more than 8 hours a day. Young persons are also not allowed to work at night except under circumstances specified by the law. Night time means a period of twelve consecutive hours including the interval between 22:00 to 06:00 for persons under sixteen years of age and a consecutive seven-hour period including the interval between 22:00 to 07:00 for person between sixteen to eighteen years of age. Young workers cannot be required to work overtime, during or public holidays.  Labour Act however allows children ages 16 and older to work at night in gold mining reduction work and the manufacturing of iron, steel, paper, raw sugar, and glass. In accordance with the Child Rights Act, no child may be subjected to any forced or exploitative labour.

Employer is required to keep a complete record of young workers with particulars of their ages, the date of employment and the conditions and nature of their employment and such other particulars as may be prescribed, and produce the register for inspection when required by an authorized labour officer.

In accordance with the trafficking in Persons (probations), Enforcement and Administration Act engagement of a child is prohibited in all such work that is exploitative and hazardous to physical, social and psychological development of the child.  It is a punishable offence with imprisonment of at least 2 years. In case of denied payment and lack of reasonable compensation, the punishment is extended to at least 3 years. Recruitment or offering of child for pornography or pornographic performance is forbidden. It is illegitimate act with the imprisonment of at least 7 years and 1 million Nigerian Naira. Likewise, any person involved in drug dealing is punishable no less than 1 year.

Child Rights Act prohibits the following:

a)      use of children for the purpose of begging for alms, guiding beggars, prostitution, domestic or sexual labour or for any unlawful or immoral purpose;

b)      use of children as a slave or for practices similar to slavery such as sale or trafficking of the child, debt bondage or serfdom and forced or compulsory labour;

c)      use of children for hawking of goods or services on main city streets, brothels or highways;

d)      use of children for any purpose that deprives the child of the opportunity to attend and remain in school as provided for under the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act;

e)      procurement or offering for prostitution or for the production of pornography or for any pornographic performance; and

f)       procurement or offering for any activity in the production or trafficking of illegal drugs and any other activity relating to illicit drugs as specified in the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act.

Violation of this provision is punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years.

Source: §59(5-8) & 60 of the Labour Act (Cap L1 LFN 2004); §28-30 of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003