The Right to Play and Rest / Dora Leonor Mesa
Posted on March 22, 2014
By Lic. Dora Mesa Crespo* and Lic. Odalina Guerrero Lara **
*Coordinator for the Cuban Association for the Development of Infant
**Attorney for the Cuban Law Association
ARTICLE 59 of the Preliminary Plan of Labor Law  (CHAPTER V. SPECIAL
PROTECTION IN THE WORK OF YOUTH OF FIFTEEN AND SIXTEEN YEARS) regulates
the working day for working teenagers 15 and 16 years old.
ARTICLE 59: The working day of youths of fifteen (15) and sixteen (16)
years of age cannot exceed seven (7) hours daily, nor forty (40) weekly,
and they are not allowed to work on days of rest, save that the work
carried out for reasons of exceptional social interest or force majeure.
We have expressed with priority, that we consider that the ARTICLE 59
stipulates that “the youths of fifteen (15) and sixteen (16) years of
age for reasons of exceptional social interest or force majeure can work
on days of rest” infringes Conventions of International Rights, starting
in Article 3 and Article 31 of the Convention of Child Rights , that
treats respectively the superior interest of the children and their
right to play and to rest.
The fundamental Article 3 of the Convention expresses: “In all measures
concerning children that use the public or private institutions of
social welfare, the tribunals, the administrative authorities or the
legislative organizations, a fundamental consideration that they will
attend to will be in the superior interest of the child”.
If the teenage workers work for social interests in their days of rest,
this interest overrides the greater interest of the child and so
violates Article 3 of the Convention and Article 13.1 b) that regulates
the prohibition of outstanding hours of work for the teenagers in the
Convention number 138 of the International Organization of Work (OIT).
When the workers younger than 18 years old work as an exception for
force majeure according to the OIT,  they were particularly exposed
to risks and to enter direct contact with them, which is improper
according to the same Article 60 of the Preliminary Plan, the Article 32
of the Convention of Child Rights and Article 40 of the Constitution of
the Republic of Cuba.
For well-founded reasons in the same legislation, we consider that
ARTICLE 59 of the Preliminary Plan of Labor Law should adjust the
national and international norms, principles, and rights. For this
reason we recommend a new draft that guarantees the respect of the
working day and the rest in all labor activities and economic sectors of
the workers under the age of 18, not just those who are 15 and 16.
People under 18 years of age, being a population especially vulnerable,
have a right to a more specific protection.
From our point of view, it should regulate the hours of the working day
of adolescents from 15 to 18, shouldn’t expose them to risks, and should
always adopt the flexibility and observance of the law needed to accept
other proposals of the employers that can be acceptable for the minor,
with subject of right and for the competent authority of the Minister of
Labor and Social Security of the Republic of Cuba.
According to the Panamerican Organization of Health (2010) it can be
said that the leisure or weekly rest (OIT), from a global approach, is a
human right, a resource for personal development, an area of human
experience, a source of health and of prevention of physical or mental
illness, and an indicator of the quality of life loaded with an enormous
The Cuban youth, for their dependence and vulnerability, are protected
by national and international law. In this manner, they benefit from
established protection in all instruments of human rights, and above all
in the International Convention of Child Rights and the International
Human Rights. The inexcusable respect of the rest of the working
adolescents is a basic standard for humanity.
Translated by LW
1 November 2013
Source: The Right to Play and Rest / Dora Leonor Mesa | Translating Cuba