MANILA - Children can work as long as this does not interfere with their education or recreation activities, the United Nations Children's Fund said Wednesday.
Around 2.1 million Filipino children aged 5 to 17 are working, according to a 2011 study by the Philippine Statistics Authority. Working children helps augment family income, said UNICEF Philippines representative Lotta Sylwander.
"They have to satisfy immediate needs such as hunger and shelter for the family... but if you take away all those things like education and recreation, then it is no longer good for the child," she said.
It is the employers' responsibility to provide "adequate wages and fair labor practices for parents" to keep children out of the work force, she said.
"The employer is liable... they should instead think about how they can provide for the families in the communities where they operate so that the families wont have to send their children to work which often is exploitative," she said.
The UNICEF on Wednesday released guidelines that will help companies "respect, promote, and protect children in different aspects of their businesses."
"I hope that as economic growth continues in this country, families will no longer have to resort to exploiting their children to survive," Sylwander said.