Following controversies surrounding a child star nicknamed Hsiao Hsiao Pin (小小彬), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) and Alicia Wang (王育敏) yesterday urged a revision of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) to protect child actors’ rights.
Although film director Chu Yen-ping (朱延平) rebutted media reports that he made Hsiao Hsiao Pin cry in a movie by telling him that his mother — who is divorced from his father — doesn’t want to see him, the news has drawn attention to the protection of the rights of child stars, which seems to be a gray area under the current law.
“According to the Labor Standards Act, children are only allowed to work eight hours a day and may not work on weekends or holidays,” Wang told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
“It may sound good, but in practice, it means that child actors might be forced to work eight hours after school, and since they are not allowed to work on holidays or weekends, they have to complete all their work during the week,” she said.
In addition to working after school, Chiang said that “sometimes, child actors have to take days off from school to work, and it’s not very good for them.”
Both lawmakers believe that the law should be amended to be more flexible in order to better protect child actors’ rights and to better fit reality.
“In Japan and in the US, there are special clauses for child actors and different rules apply to them during the semester and during vacations,” Wang said, suggesting that there should also be different rules for child stars of different ages.
“The needs of a two-year-old, a six-year-old, a 10-year-old or a 15-year-old child star would certainly be different, and they would work under different conditions,” she said.
“For instance, the Labor Standards Act stipulates that children under the age of 15 cannot work more than eight hours per day — well, does that mean that a five-year-old child star should work eight hours a day as well?” she added.
Wang and Chiang called on the government, as well as their colleagues in the Legislative Yuan, to imagine themselves in the position of child stars and be more considerate.
“I’ll propose amendments to the law as soon as the next legislative session starts. Chiang has agreed to join me and I hope more lawmakers would join me,” Wang said.