This article is concerned with one aspect of labour practices which evokes particular condemnation – the employment of children. Not employing children is often seen as a key aspect of social responsibility by businesses and campaigners alike. This article, however, argues that genuine social responsibility is more complex, and constitutes promoting the 'best interests of the child', rather than simply removing children from work. Much international attention to child labour issues is based on a primarily Northern and international trade-focused agenda, which takes the corporate sector as its reference point and on incorrect assumptions about the nature of children's employment. This article illustrates how these agenda are resulting in the promotion of costly 'solutions' to child labour problems, which may be unrealistic for all but the largest enterprises and may obscure other forms of action, with potentially negative consequences for many working children.