Child Labor in India: Role of Company HR This Caselet
This caselet enables a discussion on the role of HR departments and HR executives in the case of child labor. The government of India estimated, according to 2011 census, that there were around 4.5 million children working in the country, down from 13 million in 2001. But the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and other NGOs assert that there were around 60 million–115 million working children in the country in 2011. These figures include children working at their own homes (unaccounted child labor as they do not come under the purview of law) and in hazardous industries like mining, glass blowing, carpet weaving, artificial pollination (agriculture), etc. While many government and non-governmental organizations were working towards the eradication of this social malice, factors like poverty, illiteracy, corruption, etc., kept the practice of child labor prevalent in the country. Can Indian companies and their HR departments play a proactive role to abate the prevalence of child labor through their intent and involvement? What should Babita do in this case?
Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU)/Before the Classroom Discussion
This caselet needs a conceptual understanding of the laws related to child labor and ethics in HR practices. The participants should read the following chapters to help them connect the concepts:
- •Gary Dressler and Biju Varkkey, “Employment Law in India and the United States”, Human Resource Management, 12th Edition (Indian Adaptation), Pearson Education, Inc., 2011 – To understand the fundamental rights, rights against exploitation and constitutional provisions in India under the labor/factory laws and acts and their applicability in the Indian manufacturing firms and how child labor are exploited with the non-compliance of laws
- •Gary Dressler and Biju Varkkey, “Ethics, Justice and Fair Treatment in HR Management”, Human Resource Management, 12th Edition (Indian Adaptation), Pearson Education, Inc., 2011 – To understand the fundamental difference between being legally correct and being ethical; and understand the need for the companies to comply with both (law and ethics) in the case of employing child labor
Case Positioning and Setting
This caselet can be used in MBA Program for the following module/topic in the Human Resource Management Course:
- •Ethics and Role of HR Departments in Companies – To understand the need for companies to behave ethically and prohibit using child labor anywhere in their supply chain and the extended role of HR departments in achieving the same
- I. What are the factors responsible for prevalence of child labor in India?
- II. What do you think, Babita should do to impress upon her company to do away with the practice of child labor within their direct and indirect supply chain?
- III. ...........
Case Analysis and Discussion
I. Child Labor in India
The factors responsible for the prevalence of child labor in India could be summarized through Exhibit (TN)-I..................