Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports
In 2022, Chile made moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Chile passed laws that specifically prohibit the use of children in illicit activities, raised the maximum prison sentences for those guilty of committing child trafficking crimes, and guaranteed the rights of children to be protected from economic exploitation. The Ministerial Advisory Commission for the Eradiation of Child Labor and Protection of Working Adolescents held several meetings on inspection guidelines for the labor directorate, which resulted in the creation of a manual and training modules on child labor and migration for enforcement personnel. In addition, Chile participated in the Alliance 8.7 Strategic Workshop as a Pioneer Country to renew its roadmap for attaining sustainable development goal 8.7. However, children in Chile are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children are also subjected to involvement in the production and trafficking of drugs. Furthermore, migrant children face significant barriers to education, including discrimination and a lack of transportation and access to educational settings. There is also a lack of adequate shelters for child survivors of trafficking in persons.
Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Chile.
|Working (% and population)||5 to 14||3.8 (94,025)|
|Working children by sector||5 to 14|
|Attending School (%)||5 to 14||99.5|
|Combining Work and School (%)||7 to 14||4.5|
|Primary Completion Rate (%)||101.5|
Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2020, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2023. (1)
Source for all other data: International Labor Organization’s analysis of statistics from Encuesta de Actividades de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes (Simpoc), 2012. (2)
Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.
|Agriculture||Livestock rearing (3)|
|Forestry,† activities unknown (3,4)|
|Hunting,† activities unknown (4)|
|Fishing,† activities unknown (3,4)|
|Industry||Construction,† bricklaying,† and carpentry† (2,4,5)|
|Services||Domestic work (3,4,6)|
|Working in retail, hospitality, corner stores, offices, restaurants, and bars† (3,5-8)|
|Garbage collection,† and street cleaning (5)|
|Street work,† including street vending (7)|
|Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡||Use in illicit activities, including in the production, selling, and distribution of drugs, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (3,6,7,9,10)|
|Forced labor in agriculture, mining, construction, street vending, domestic work, and garment and hospitality sectors (9,11,12)|
|Commercial sexual exploitation, including in the production of pornography, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (3,9-13)|
|Forced domestic work (13)|
† Determined by national law or regulation as hazardous and, as such, relevant to Article 3(d) of ILO C. 182.
‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.
Children from indigenous and migrant communities are especially vulnerable to human trafficking for labor exploitation in Chile. (12) Children are also involved in street work, including the selling of goods. (7) While education is compulsory through secondary school, some educational barriers do exist in Chile, including the lack of transportation to schools in rural areas and discrimination in educational settings, specifically for migrant children. (3,6,14,15)
Chile has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).
|ILO C. 138, Minimum Age||✓|
|ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor||✓|
|UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict||✓|
|UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography||✓|
|Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons||✓|
The government has established laws and regulations related to child labor (Table 4).
|Standard||Meets International Standards||Age||Legislation|
|Minimum Age for Work||Yes||18||Articles 13 and 17 of the Labor Code (16)|
|Minimum Age for Hazardous Work||Yes||18||Articles 13, 14, and 18 of the Labor Code (16)|
|Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children||Yes||Articles 14–18 of the Labor Code; Decree 1 (16-19)|
|Prohibition of Forced Labor||Yes||Article 19, No. 2 of the Constitution; Article 2 of the Labor Code; Article 411 of the Penal Code (16,20-22)|
|Prohibition of Child Trafficking||Yes||Article 411 of the Penal Code (21)|
|Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children||Yes||Articles 366, 367, and 411 of the Penal Code; Law No. 20.594 (21,23,24)|
|Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities||Yes||Article 72 of the Penal Code; Law 21.444 (25,26)|
|Minimum Age for Voluntary State Military Recruitment||Yes||18||Chapter 1, Article 32 of the Armed Forces Recruitment and Mobilization Law No. 2.306 (27)|
|Prohibition of Compulsory Recruitment of Children by (State) Military||Yes||Chapter 1, Article 13 of the Armed Forces Recruitment and Mobilization Law No. 2.306 (27)|
|Prohibition of Military Recruitment by Non-state Armed Groups||Yes||Article 26 of Law No. 20.357 (28)|
|Compulsory Education Age||Yes||18‡||Articles 4, 25, and 27 of the General Education Law No. 20.370 (15)|
|Free Public Education||Yes||Article 4 of the General Education Law No. 20.370 (15)|
‡ Age calculated based on available information (15)
In 2022, the Chilean government amended the Penal Code to fully prohibit the use of children in illicit activities, including in the production and trafficking of drugs. (25,26,29) Chile also made updates to its criminal code by promulgating Law 21.522, which replaced the term "child prostitution" with "commercial sexual exploitation of a person under the age of 18," and included a minimum sentencing of 5 to 10 years for perpetrators of this crime, with sentencing as high as 20 years if the minor is personally or economically dependent on the perpetrator. (12,13,30) In addition, the government promulgated Law 21.523, which increased the maximum prison sentence for child trafficking to between 10 to 20 years. (12,13,31) Chile also passed Law 21.430 on Guaranteed Rights and Protections for Children and Adolescents, which establishes the right of minors to be protected from economic exploitation, sexual exploitation, and child labor. (12,13,32)
The government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor (Table 5). However, gaps exist within the operations of enforcement agencies that may hinder adequate enforcement of their child labor laws.
|Organization/Agency||Role & Activities|
|Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MINTRAB)||Designs and implements national strategies on child labor and generates awareness on child labor and commercial sexual exploitation of children. (6) Enforces child labor laws, coordinating with the Better Childhood Service and the Department of Fundamental Rights. (13,33) During the reporting period, Chile replaced the Department for the Eradication of Child Labor with the Department of Fundamental Rights. The Department of Fundamental Rights is responsible for eradicating child labor and forced labor, as well as addressing labor issues pertaining to migration and people with disabilities. (13) As of 2021, the Undersecretary of Labor within MINTRAB chairs the Ministerial Advisory Commission for the Implementation of the Protocol (ILO C029) on forced labor. The Commission is made up of actors whose knowledge and experience are used to advise the Undersecretary of Labor on the limitations that may hinder implementation of the protocol. (8,34)|
|Ministry of the Interior||Oversees the National Investigations Police (PDI) and the National Uniformed Police (Carabineros). (13) Both agencies are tasked with investigating and preventing child labor violations and the worst forms of child labor. (35) Within PDI, the Brigade to Investigate Trafficking in Persons investigates trafficking of children, modern slavery, and organized crime. (35,36) The Sexual Assault Victim Care Center provides support to child survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. (35) Within the National Uniformed Police, the Directorate for Family Protection provides special orientation on policies and operating plans for detection of commercial sexual exploitation of children. (3)|
|National Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía Nacional)||Conducts criminal investigations and prosecutes crimes related to the worst forms of child labor. Trains and coordinates with interagency partners, including PDI, Carabineros, and regional and local prosecutor’s offices. (3,37)|
Labor Law Enforcement
In 2022, labor law enforcement agencies in Chile took actions to address child labor (Table 6). However, gaps exist within the operations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare that may hinder adequate labor law enforcement, including insufficient human resource allocation.
|Overview of Labor Law Enforcement||2021||2022|
|Labor Inspectorate Funding||$74,000,000 (37)||$9,700,000 (13)|
|Number of Labor Inspectors||467 (37)||350 (13)|
|Mechanism to Assess Civil Penalties||Yes (16)||Yes (16)|
|Training for Labor Inspectors Provided||Yes (37)||Yes (13)|
|Number of Labor Inspections Conducted at Worksite||78,050† (37)||Unknown|
|Number of Child Labor Violations Found||218 (37)||186 (13)|
|Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed||218 (37)||172 (13)|
|Number of Child Labor Penalties Imposed that Were Collected||218 (37)||172 (13)|
|Routine Inspections Conducted||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
|Routine Inspections Targeted||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
|Unannounced Inspections Permitted||Yes (8,16)||Yes (13,16)|
|Unannounced Inspections Conducted||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
|Complaint Mechanism Exists||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
|Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
† Data are from January 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022.
Criminal Law Enforcement
In 2022, criminal law enforcement agencies in Chile took actions to address child labor (Table 7). However, gaps exist within the operations of enforcement agencies that may hinder adequate criminal law enforcement, including judges suspending or commuting sentences for those convicted of child commercial sexual exploitation crimes.
|Overview of Criminal Law Enforcement||2021||2022|
|Training for Criminal Investigators Provided||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
|Number of Investigations||Unknown||509 (13)|
|Number of Prosecutions Initiated||Unknown||43 (13)|
|Number of Convictions||Unknown||25 (13)|
|Imposed Penalties for Violations Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor||Unknown||Yes (13)|
|Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services||Yes (8)||Yes (13)|
During the reporting period, the government provided criminal law enforcement information for inclusion in this report.
In 2022, judges frequently suspended or commuted sentences of individuals convicted of commercial sexual exploitation of children, including human trafficking. (3,9) There is also a lack of adequate shelters for child survivors of trafficking in persons. (11)
The government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor (Table 8).
|Coordinating Body||Role & Activities|
|Ministerial Advisory Commission for the Eradication of Child Labor and Protection of Working Adolescents (CETI)||Coordinates with the Department of Fundamental Rights on implementing the National Strategy for the Eradication of Child Labor and Protection of the Working Adolescent on the national and subnational levels. (13) During the reporting period, CETI held meetings on inspection guidelines for the labor directorate and conducted a survey of work activities for boys, girls, and adolescents, the results of which will be published in 2023. CETI also drafted a manual on child labor and migration with support from IOM, developed training modules for employees of the Better Childhood Service, and updated information about child labor on the government's website. (13)|
During the reporting period, the Interagency Task Force on Child Labor and Migration began working on a study on the work of migrant children and adolescents in Chile, and results are expected to be published in 2023. (13)
The government has established policies related to child labor (Table 9). However, policy gaps exist that hinder efforts to address child labor, including a lack of implementation.
|Policy||Description & Activities|
|National Strategy for the Eradication of Child Labor and Protection of Adolescent Workers (2015–2025)||Establishes a strategy to eradicate child labor by combining efforts across national and regional agencies and private and public entities, and requiring regions to establish a strategy to address child labor issues in the area. (38) MINTRAB oversees the implementation of regional strategies, including the design and implementation of regional operating plans. MINTRAB continued implementing the national strategy during the reporting period. (13)|
|Third Action Plan against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents||Creates cooperation mechanisms for private and public institutions to collaborate on preventing and detecting commercial sexual exploitation of children and providing social services and rights restitution to survivors. (39) Research was unable to determine whether activities were undertaken during the reporting period to implement this plan.|
|National Action Plan Against Human Trafficking (2019–2022)||Prevents and addresses human trafficking, with a focus on women and children. Encompassed four strategic areas: prevention and awareness raising, prosecution, victims’ assistance and protection, and inter-institutional cooperation and coordination. (40) The Intersectoral Roundtable on Trafficking in Persons developed the Action Plan in 2019, which was approved at the working level but is awaiting approval at the ministerial level. (36,41,42) The plan continued to guide member agencies' work in 2022, despite not being fully implemented. (12) The government plans to draft a new Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons in 2023. (12)|
‡ The government had other policies that may have addressed child labor issues or had an impact on child labor. (43)
During the reporting period, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security attended the Alliance 8.7 workshop to renew the roadmap for attaining sustainable development goal 8.7. This goal seeks to eliminate child labor in all its forms by 2025. (13,44)
In 2022, the government funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor (Table 10). However, gaps exist in these social programs, including a lack of shelters for survivors of human trafficking.
|Program||Description & Activities|
|Better Childhood Service (Mejor Niñez)||Operates under the Ministry of Social Development and Family, guaranteeing the protection of vulnerable children and adolescents, particularly those living on the streets, and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, in coordination with the Department of Child Labor Eradication. (37,45) Also coordinates with Local Offices of Childhood (Oficinas Locales de la Niñez), referring cases of children whose rights have been violated to appropriate social services and monitoring cases of the worst forms of child labor. These offices are located in municipalities throughout the country and are part of the larger social protection network overseen by Better Childhood Service. (45,46) During the reporting period, Better Childhood conducted activities in 11 regions across Chile to assist with its Sexual Exploitation Program. The program is dedicated to addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents by financing accredited collaborating. (12,47)|
For information about USDOL’s projects to address child labor around the world, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/ilab-project-page-search
Reports indicate that the absence of specialized shelters for male survivors of human trafficking remains a problem. (12)
During the reporting period, the National Service for Specialized Protection to Children and Adolescents, in conjunction with the Inter-American Institute, held a seminar on violence and commercial sexual exploitation. The seminar included discussions about new forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children in digital spaces, and the challenges in criminal prosecution and protection of survivors. (48) Additionally, the Development Subdirectorate of the National Service of Tourism created training for several members of the tourist industry on prevention, identifying, and acting in cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children. (49) The Ministry of Labor and Social Security also established partnerships with the private sector, in which they provided businesses, unions, and the general public with training on preventing the worst forms of child labor. (13)
Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor in Chile (Table 11).
|Area||Suggested Action||Year(s) Suggested|
|Enforcement||Ensure that labor inspectors have sufficient vehicles to carry out their duties.||2016 – 2022|
|Ensure that cases related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children are prosecuted fully and that appropriate penalties are imposed on violators.||2016 – 2022|
|Publish information on the number of labor inspections conducted at worksites.||2022|
|Ensure that there are adequate shelters available for child victims of human trafficking.||2019 – 2022|
|Government Policies||Ensure that the National Action Plan Against Human Trafficking is approved at the ministerial level and implemented.||2021 – 2022|
|Ensure that activities are undertaken to implement the Third Action Plan against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents and that information on these activities is made publicly available.||2022|
|Social Programs||Conduct research to determine the activities carried out by children working in forestry, hunting, and fishing to inform policies and programs.||2020 – 2022|
|Ensure that educational barriers, such as the lack of transportation to school in rural areas and discrimination of migrant children in educational settings, are addressed to prevent child labor.||2018 – 2022|
|Ensure that male survivors of human trafficking have access to shelters and specialized services.||2022|
- UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education, both sexes (%). Accessed March 3, 2023. For more information, please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.
- ILO. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Encuesta de Actividades de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes (Simpoc). 2012. Analysis received March 2023. Please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 14, 2020.
- Organización Internacional del Trabajo. Chile: Encuesta de Actividades de Niños y Adolescentes de 2012: "Magnitud y características del trabajo infantil en Chile - Informe 2013". 2013.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. January 24, 2018.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 4, 2021.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. March 5, 2019.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 3, 2022. (A)
- U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report- 2023: Chile. Washington, D.C., June 16, 2023.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 12, 2021.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 3, 2022. (B)
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 15, 2023.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 13, 2023.
- U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2020: Chile. Washington, D.C., March 30, 2021.
- Government of Chile. Ley General de Educación, Ley Núm. 20.370. Enacted: 2009. Source on file.
- Government of Chile. Código del Trabajo de Chile. Enacted: 2002. Updated April 2019.
- Government of Chile. Ley Núm. 20.539. Enacted: 2011. Source on file.
- Government of Chile. Actualiza Reglamento para la Aplicacion del Articulo 13 del Codigo de Trabajo, Decreto Supremo No. 2. Enacted: 2017.
- Government of Chile. Decreto 1: Aprueba Reglamento Conforme a lo Dispuesto en el Inciso Final del Articulo 15 del Código de Trabajo. May 22, 2021.
- Government of Chile. Constitución Política de 1980 incluidas las Reformas hasta el 2005. Enacted: 2005.
- Government of Chile. Código Penal de la República de Chile. Enacted: 1875.
- Government of Chile. Delitos de Trafico Ilicito de Inmigrantes y Trata de Personas, Ley 20.507. Enacted: 2011. Source on file.
- Government of Chile. Sanciona el acoso sexual de menores, la pornografía infantil virtual y la posesión de material pornográfico infantil, Ley Núm. 20.526. Enacted: 2011.
- Government of Chile. Crea Inhabilidades para Condenado por Delitos Sexuales contra Menores y Establece Registro de Dichas Inhabilidades, Ley Núm 20.594. Enacted: 2012.
- Government of Chile. Ley Relativa a la Utilización de Menores en Crimenes o Delitos. April 9, 2022. Source on File.
- Government of Chile. Sustituye la Ley Núm 19.366 que sanciona el tráfico ilícito de estupefacientes y sustancias sicotrópicas, Ley Núm 20.000. Enacted: 2005.
- Government of Chile. Dicta Normas Sobre Reclutamiento y Movilización de las Fuerzas Armadas, Decreto Ley Núm 2.306. Enacted: 1978.
http://www.dgmn.cl/transparencia/leyes_dgmn/nuevas/D.Ley 2.306 Dicta normas sobre reclutamiento.pdf
- Government of Chile. Law 20.357. Enacted: June 26, 2009. Source on file.
- Government of Chile. Promulgamos ley que tipifica el delito de explotación sexual comercial contra niños, niñas o adolescentes. December 27, 2022.
- Government of Chile. Introduce un nuevo párrafo en el título VII del libro II del código penal, relativo a la explotación sexual comercial y material pornográfico de niños, niñas y adolescentes. December 20, 2022. Source on File.
- Government of Chile. Modifica Diversos Cuerpos Legales para Mejorar las Garantías Procesales, Proteger los Derechos de las Victimas de los Delitos Sexuales, y Evitar su Revictimización. December 19, 2022. Source on File.
- Government of Chile. Garantías y Protección Integral de los Derechos de la Niñez y Adolescencia. March 6, 2022. Source on File.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 15, 2019.
- Government of Chile. Decreto 31_Crea Comisión Asesora Ministerial para la Implementacion del Protocolo de 2014 Relativo al Convenio Sobre el Trabajo Forzoso. October 30, 2021.
- Government of Chile official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. January 31, 2020.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. February 13, 2020.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago. Reporting. April 11, 2022.
- OIT y Ministerio del Trabajo y Previsión Social. Crecer Felices. Estrategia nacional para la erradicación del trabajo infantil y protección del adolescente trabajador, 2015–2025. May 5, 2015.
- Government of Chile. Ministerio de Justicia entrega al Ministerio de Desarrollo Social el Tercer Marco para la Acción contra la explotación sexual comercial de niños, niñas y adolescentes. May 18, 2021.
- Mesa Intersectorial sobre Trata de Personas. Plan de Acción Nacional contra la Trata de Personas 2015–2018.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. July 1, 2019.
- Government of Chile. Chile país pionero de la Alianza 8.7: Compromiso contra la trata de personas y el trabajo infantil April 1, 2019.
- Government of Chile. Primer Plan Nacional de Derechos Humanos. 2018.
- ILO. Chile: Nueva Hoja de Ruta 2022 – 2025 para avanzar en la prevención y erradicación del trabajo infantil, trabajo forzoso y la trata de personas. October 14, 2022.
- Government of Chile. Ley 21302_Crea el servicio nacional de protección especializada a la niñez y adolescencia y modifica normales legales que indica. January 5, 2021.
- U.S. Embassy- Santiago official. E-mail communication with USDOL official. April 5, 2022.
- CIUDAD DEL NIÑO FOUNDATION. Directora Mejor Niñez visita PEE La Serena. October 19, 2022.
- Government of Chile. Profesionales se especializan en materias de Violencia y Explotación Sexual Comercial. December 7, 2022.
- Government of Chile. Entidades de viaje y turismo de Ñuble se capacitan contra la explotación sexual comercial infantil. May 26, 2022.