If you feel that the world of Fair Trade has its very own language – don’t fret! We’ll keep you in the know!

With this glossary we’ll guide you through the common technical terms used by FLOCERT, Fairtrade International and the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO).

Learn about the wor(l)ds of Fair Trade below!

Navigate the glossary by letter

Child labour

Work that is harmful to a child’s health and well-being, and/or interferes with their education, leisure and development.

As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) states, not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Activities such as helping their parents around the home and/or assisting on the family farm can contribute to children’s development, and are permitted – as long as the work is non-hazardous or exploitative, occurs outside school hours/during school holidays, and does not interfere with the child’s schooling.

The ILO defines a child as anyone under the age of 18, and uses three categories to define child labour, namely:

  1. Minimum age of employment: ILO convention no. 138 sets the general minimum age for admission to employment or work at 15 years, which is the average age of completion of compulsory schooling. If children in a country are obliged to go to school up the age of, for example, 16 years, then the minimum age should also be 16. For light work (which could be done alongside school), the minimum age is 13 – but this work must not interfere with a child’s schooling.
  2. Hazardous child labour: Defined by the ILO as “Work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children”. The ILO convention 138 sets the minimum age for hazardous work at 18. The ILO requires each country to develop a National Hazardous Child Labour List, reflecting the fact that hazardous work varies between countries and that tailored responses are required. If a country does not yet have such a national list, the ILO provides generic definitions of hazardous child labour.
  3. Unconditional worst forms of child labour: No child under 18 is permitted to engage in the following:
  • All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • Child prostitution and pornography;
  • Using children for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs.

The Fairtrade Standards reference ILO Conventions on child labour and include several detailed requirements.