KUALA LUMPUR: Those who employ children aged below 15 or get them to do hazardous work may end up spending five years behind bars.
This was one of the increased penalties for offenders under amendments to the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966, which was passed in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Oct 17).
The amendments were tabled by Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran (pic), who said the laws would protect children from being exploited.
Under the amendments, penalties or fines were increased from a minimum of RM5,000 to a minimum of RM50,000.
Maximum fines were also increased from RM10,000 to RM100,000.
Jail terms were also increased from a one-year minimum sentence to at least two years, with offenders liable to face a maximum of five years' jail.
The amendments also define hazardous work relating to the handling of machinery and the working environment.
The new law also covers against exposing children to hazardous chemicals, dusty conditions, extreme temperatures, noise and vibration.
However, a young person may be engaged in hazardous work with personal supervision if he or she is under apprenticeship or undergoing vocational training.
Earlier, when tabling the amendment Bill, Kulasegaran said based on statistics from the Manpower Department, there were a total of 440,500 workers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old.
He said that the amendments were in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.
He added that the amendments were also in line with Malaysia's ratification of the Minimum Age Convention 1973 and the Worst Form of Child Labour Convention 1999.
"The amendments will increase protection to children and young people in employment, particularly from discrimination and exploitation by irresponsible parties," he said.
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