The legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on Thursday passed the first reading of an amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) designed to put an end to overworked child actors by redefining talent agency contracts as employer-employee relationships.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said she proposed the amendment after she received a telephone call from the parents of a six-year-old actor who said that they were left powerless to stop their child being forced to work unreasonable hours.
“They told me their child was sometimes asked by film production crews to work 20 hours nonstop from 6am in the morning to 2am the next day. If the films’ production fell behind schedule, the situation would become even worse, and the child often ended up working several consecutive days,” Wang said.
Aside from the unreasonably long work hours, Wang said there were also times when the directors — in order to create dramatic effects for the productions — asked the child to perform stunts without safety measures, work in the rain or dive into water during winter while wearing a short-sleeved shirt.
“The parents said their hands were tied because the act currently does not recognize the contracts a talent agency provides as an employment relationship,” Wang said.
The amendment is aimed at bringing children aged 15 and under — who are paid in cash according to talent agency contracts — under the protection of the act, which stipulates that children should not work more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, nor should they be permitted to work on a regular day off.
Violators of the act could face a prison term of no more than six months or a fine not exceeding NT$300,000.