Ancient history

Child Labor Law

Last updated:2022-07-25
  • Since Antiquity, child labor has been an accepted social fact. They help their parents with agricultural tasks in the fields or are employed as apprentices by a craftsman.
  • At the beginning of the 19 th century, the Industrial Revolution increased labor activity. This is the beginning of a very strong rural exodus. Poor families with many children encourage them to go to work in factories and factories. Remember that at the time, life expectancy was on average 40 years.
  • As early as 1819, the United Kingdom passed laws to protect child labour.

March 22, 1841


Louis René de Villermé

Charles Dupin

Charles de Montalembert

Alban de Villeneuve-Bargemont

Louis-Philippe 1 st


  • 1840:the doctor Louis René Villermé publishes his "Table of the physical and moral state of the workers employed in the cotton, wool and silk factories" produced among the workers of Parisian and provincial factories. Villermé emphasizes that the poor state of health of the workers comes from their working conditions. The hardest hit population are children.
  • Following the reading of the work of Louis René Villermé, Viscount Alban de Villeneuve-Bargemont and Count Charles de Montalembert demand a law regulating child labor. They are supported, among others, by Victor Hugo.
  • February 22, 1840:The politician Charles Dupin publishes a report entitled "Du travail des enfants", which launches the debates in the Chamber of Peers for a law limiting child labor. These debates will continue until March 10, 1840.
  • February 23, 1841:the Chamber of Peers voted in favor of the law.
  • 3 to 11 March 1841:the Chamber of Deputies finalizes the law.


  • March 22, 1841:Louis-Philippe 1 st promulgates the Montalembert law passed by the royalist deputies.
  • It limits child labour:
  • the minimum age for employment is set at 8 years old or 13 years old for night work;
  • children aged 8 to 12 cannot work more than 8 hours a day;
  • children aged 12 to 16 cannot work more than 12 hours a day;
  • children between the ages of 8 and 12 must go to school and receive an education.
  • However, this law is rarely applied because it only concerns companies with fewer than 20 workers.