To explore the full set of age-related legislation in the area of Economic participation & education,
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economic participation & education

The domains of economic participation and education are considered together due to the close relationship in some of the relevant age-related legislation, i.e. the minimum legal full-time working age and the end of mandatory schooling.

When it comes to economic rights, the CEE/CIS region demonstrates legislative commitment to protecting children from hazardous work and equal access to minimum wage schemes. Across the region, all States have set legal minimum ages for the start and end of compulsory education, with countries using an 8-10 year educational curriculum.

Employment

Article 32 of the CRC asks States to “provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment.” All countries have set a minimum age for admission into full-time employment, with the lowest age being 14 years old in Turkey. In nine countries, the legal minimum age at which a child can independently enter full-time employment is 16 years, with six countries providing the ability for work below that age with the parental or guardian consent. In seven countries, the minimum age is 15 years, with Serbia mandating that the capacity or ability of the child should be considered.

16
15
14

Minimum legal full-time working-age



The research on economic rights also showed that children can often make independent decisions over own income, savings and petty dealings before the age of 18. The most frequently set age barrier in this regard is 14 years (see map below).

18
15
14
7

The right to make small economic transactions



Economic rights for children and adolescents are relatively strong across the region. All countries set a minimum age of 18 years for admission into hazardous working environments, with many countries providing clear criteria in legislation. Furthermore, the legislation across the region suggests that children and young people are recipients of a minimum wage scheme at an equal level to other members of the workforce. Only Croatia differentiates its minimum wags according to age. A lower minimum wage is applicable for workers under the age of 35.

This area of partial economic emancipation is the only policy field in which laws frequently stipulate that children have the right to make their own decisions, unless parents prove that a child is incapable. Hence, in this area a younger age is set, with the onus on adults to prove incapacity, rather than the onus of the child to prove capacity.

Employment versus education

Across the region, the variation is small in terms of admission to employment, however numerous contradictions can be found when considered against the end of mandatory schooling. Eleven countries across the region have a lower minimum age for full-time work than the age at which mandatory schooling ends. These countries were predominately CIS or former Soviet Union countries. This suggests that children could be leaving school to gain employment.

The table below compares the minimum age for full-time work and the end of mandatory schooling:

Country Minimum age for admission to full-time employment End of mandatory schooling/ minimum school leaving age
Albania 16 16'
Armenia 16 16
Azerbaijan 15' 17
Belarus 14* 17
Bosnia & Herzegovina 15 15
Bulgaria 16 16
Croatia 15 15
Georgia 16' 15
Kazakhstan 16 18
Kosovo 15 15
Kyrgyzstan 16' 15
Macedonia 15* 16
Moldova 16' 18
Montenegro 15+ 15
Romania 16' 17
Russia 15 18'
Serbia 15+ 14
Tajikistan 15 16
Turkey 15' 14'
Turkmenistan 16' 18
Ukraine 16' 17
Uzbekistan 16 14

In the development of the forthcoming »General Comment on Adolescence«, there is considerable debate between those advocating stronger protections for children against labour exploitation and those – at times the children themselves – that see employment as a positive aspect in a child’s life that should not be subject to a minimum legal age. Paragraph 89 highlights the “important developmental role” of work for children providing that “it is not a worst form of child labour and does not interfere with compulsory education.” This is particularly relevant for households facing poverty, where children can provide an economic contribution to the family. Paragraph 90 notes that “general bans on work for adolescent who have reached the minimum working age, which must be above compulsory school age, are counterproductive.” This is also the case in another five countries across the region (orange highlights).