Protecting rights, interests of working children in mass media

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
Lately, I noticed the rise of popularity and exposure of children and teenagers in mass media. I believe these young people are happy with their work and their rights and interests are protected. But I am curious about the rights of a working child. May I know what his/her rights are especially with respect to his/her working hours and income?
Popo

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Dear Popo,
Other than the requirement of a special work permit before engaging children for work, our laws provide conditions aimed at protecting the rights and interests of working children. In general, there is a prohibition on engaging children in the worst forms of labor such as slavery, prostitution and pornography, engagement in illegal activities or those that are hazardous or likely to be harmful to the health, safety or morals of children (Section 5, Republic Act (RA) 7610 as amended by RA 9231). There is also a prohibition on engaging children 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. 6, RA 7610 as amended by RA 9231).

Moreover, employers of children engaged in public entertainment are strictly required to ensure the protection, health, safety, morals and normal development of the child, institute measures to prevent the child’s exploitation or discrimination and formulate and implement a continuing program for training and skills acquisition of the child. This includes providing a working child with access to at least primary and secondary education (Sec. 13, RA 7610 as amended by RA 9231).

To implement this provision of law, the Rules issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) prohibit employers from requiring children to work during school hours, or hinder access to education during school days.

As to working hours, there are special rules for working children that mainly state that children cannot be required to render overtime and late-night work.

Specifically, children below fifteen (15) years of age can only be required to work up to twenty (20) hours a week with daily work not exceeding four (4) hours each day, and they are not allowed to work between eight o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning of the following day. On the other hand, children fifteen (15) years of age but below eighteen (18) cannot be compelled to work more than eight (8) hours a day, and in no case beyond forty (40) hours a week, and they are not allowed to work between ten o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning of the following day (Sec. 12-A, RA 7610 as amended by RA 9231). Hence, a child cannot be required to render overtime or late-night work.

With respect to income from work, the law provides that it belongs to the child. The parents or legal guardian only serve as administrators of the income of the working child and are not free to dispose of the income according to their discretion. According to the law, the income shall be set aside primarily for support, education or skills acquisition of the child, and secondarily to the collective needs of the family. But not all of the income can be used for the needs of the family. Only a maximum of twenty percent (20 percent ) of the child’s income may be used for the collective needs of the family (Sec. 12-B, RA 7610 as amended by RA 9231). The rest must either be used or saved for the benefit of the working child. In connection with this rule and in compliance with the law and established rules, at least thirty percent (30 percent) of the earnings of a child shall be deposited in a trust fund in case the income amounts to at least two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) annually, or in a savings account in case the annual income is below this amount (Sec. 18, DOLE Department Order No. 65-04).

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

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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