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Minimum age for admission to employment

The frequently asked question on the minimum age for admission to employment is “Under what conditions can a child (or person below 18 years old) work, but not be considered a child laborer?”

Under Republic Act 9231 or “An Act Providing for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and Affording Stronger Protection for the Working Child, Amending for this Purpose RA 7610, as amended, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,” child labor refers to any work or economic activity performed by a child that subjects him/her to any form of exploitation or is harmful to his/her health and safety, or physical, mental or psychosocial development. So in layman’s term child labor is hazardous work (exploitative); it deprives a child to health and education; it is constant work and for long hours and it is illegal work.

If child work is light work, the child learns to take responsibility; it respects rights to health and education of the child, work is occasional and legal.

The minimum employable age is 15 years old but there are conditions of employment for children 15 to below 18 years of age.

In response to the numerous queries received from concerned employers and workers regarding work certificates and permits and other pertinent issues regarding employment of young persons, the Department of Labor and Employment issued Department Advisory 01-08 clarifying the issuance of work certificates and permits to young workers aged 15 to less than 18 years of age.

The advisory explains the issuance of a DOLE certificate to youth aged 15 to below 18 years prior to employment is not required by law, adding that no employer shall deny opportunity to any such youth applying for employment merely on the basis of lack of a DOLE work permit or certificate of eligibility for employment.

Any person 15 to below 18 years of age may present a copy of this DOLE advisory to any employer, job provider, government authority or his/her representative when seeking employment or anytime during employment.

The policies stated in the advisory were pursuant to the Labor Code of the Philippines and RA 9231 (An Act providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and affording special protection for the working child, Amending for this purpose RA 7610, as amended) and consistent with Department Order 65-04 (Rules and regulations implementing RA 9231 amending RA 7610, as amended).

The advisory reiterates that employment of young persons 15 to below 18 years of age may be allowed subject to the conditions and prohibitions in RA 9231, which defines hours of work of a working child to eight hours a day, and in no case beyond 40 hours a week, adding that to work at night, the law states that “No child 15 years of age but below 18 shall be allowed to work between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following day.”

In reiteration of RA 7610 as amended by RA 7658, RA 9231 requires the issuance of a work permit prior to the employment of children below 15 years of age, as allowed in exceptional situations.

As for DO 65-04, this clarifies the prohibitions, which are: the employment of children in the worst forms of child labor in any public or private establishments and the employment of children in advertisements directly or indirectly promoting alcoholic beverages, intoxicating drinks, tobacco and its by-products, gambling or any form of violence or pornography.

As for conditions of employment of young persons, the law states that every child shall have access to formal and non-formal education, including alternative learning systems. Thus, where young persons 15 to below 18 years of age are employed, the employer shall provide them with access to at least elementary or secondary education, including alternative learning systems.

Although the law allowed 15-year old workers, the employable age remains 18 years old. Those who are between 15 to 18 years old should work in a non-hazardous field that is healthy and not exposed to danger. The law also implies that 15 to 18-year old workers should not be dealing with hazardous work such as work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse; work underground, under-water, at dangerous heights or at unguarded heights of two meters and above, or in confined spaces; work with hazardous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves manual handling or transport of heavy loads; work in an unhealthy environment which may expose children to hazardous processes, to temperatures, noise levels or vibrations damaging to their health, to toxic, corrosive, poisonous, noxious, explosive, flammable and combustible substances or composites, to harmful biological agents, or to other dangerous chemicals including pharmaceuticals; work under particularly difficult conditions such as long hours of work or during the night, or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.

For more information on the employment of children, visit us at www.dole.gov.ph and www.bwsc.dole.gov.ph.

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