• Employment of minors in public entertainment

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My son, who is only 12 years old, was scouted by a talent manager. He offered a regular show for my son. If we decide to accept his offer, may I know what will be the rights of my son?
    Millet

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    Dear Millet,
    The general rule is that children below 15 years of age cannot and should not be employed. Our state, however, allows their employment as an exception in certain instances and subject to strict conditions aimed at protecting them against possible abuse.

    One of the allowed exceptions is the employment of minors in public entertainment. Section 12 of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, as amended by RA 9231, states:

    “Employment of Children—Children below 15 years of age shall not be employed except:

    xxx

    “2) Where a child’s employment or participation in public entertainment or information through cinema, theater, radio, television or other forms of media is essential: Provided, That the employment contract is concluded by the child’s parents or legal guardian, with the express agreement of the child concerned, if possible, and the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment: xxx”

    The employment of minors is subject to strict conditions, which can also be translated into rights. First, a minor employee is entitled to the rights that the Labor Code bestows upon a person of legal age engaged in the same profession or work. In addition, the employer is required to ensure the protection, health, safety, morals and normal development of the child; to institute measures to prevent the child’s exploitation or discrimination; and to formulate and implement, subject to the approval and supervision of competent authorities, a continuing program for training and skills acquisition of the child. (Ibid.) Thus, a child has the right to be protected against unhealthy and unsafe conditions, exploitation and discrimination, as well as to continuing program for development. In order to achieve the latter, the employer shall provide a working child with access to at least primary and secondary education. (Sec. 13, RA 7610 as amended).

    Also, a child below 15 years of age may not be allowed to work for more than 20 hours a week and not be more than four hours at any given day. (Section 12(A), Id.) Further, no child below 15 years of age shall be allowed to work between eight o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning of the following day. (Id.) A working child also has the right to his earnings, which shall be set aside primarily for his support, education or skills acquisition and secondarily to the collective needs of the family. (Sec. 12-B, Id.) For this purpose, the parent or legal guardian of a working child is required to set up a trust fund for at least 30 percent of the earnings of the child whose wages and salaries from work and other income amount to at least P200,000 annually. (Sec. 12-C, Id.)
    Similarly, a child has the right to be protected from the worst forms of child labor. The phrase “worst forms of child labor” may refer, among others to all forms of slavery, prostitution, pornography and other illegal activities, and hazardous work. (See Sec. 12-D, Id.) Specifically, it is prohibited to employ a child as a model in any advertisement directly or indirectly promoting alcoholic beverages, intoxicating drinks, tobacco and its byproducts, gambling or any form of violence or pornography. (Sec. 14, Id.)

    These are the rights of a child below 15 years of age who is engaged for employment. If you and your son agree to enter into a contract of employment, he is entitled to the above-mentioned rights.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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