Productions often need talent spanning a wide range of ages. Sometimes this includes talent under the age of 18, also known as minors. It is important to be aware that the rules for working with minors differ from the rules for working with adults. This article will help to keep you aware of what's needed, while providing links to additional resources.
All talent should be treated with respect and be provided with safe and fair working environments. However, working with minors requires additional precautions and considerations, and specific laws may also be applicable depending on where your project is hiring or taking place.
The detailed rules for working with minors can vary per city, state, region, and country. So you should check your local government websites to make sure you're compliant with their laws and guidelines for working with minors in your locale. In many cases, the rules can apply regardless of whether or not the work is paid or volunteer-based, and it is your responsibility to comport with any governing laws.
These rules have to do with various things such as:
- The child needing to have a parent or guardian on-set for the duration of the work.
- How many hours a child is allowed to work depending on their age.
- Any safety measures that need to be in place, and work breaks that must be provided.
- Possibly the need for your company/production to obtain a special permit to work with children.
- Possibly the parents of the child having to obtain a child-performer work permit.
- Paying the child via an authorized trust account.
- In some situations, providing the child with an on-set tutor.
- Union projects have additional regulations in place for working with union performers that are minors; these rules are also typically regarded as best-practices for non-union projects as well.
- In addition to your agreeing to comply with your locality's laws, Backstage may also request a background check and/or additional verification details from you.
The following sections provide additional details for specific countries:
Click here to see child entertainment laws per state.
And SAG-AFTRA provides some helpful information regarding work permits here.
Even if your production is non-union, SAG-AFTRA information is good to reference as the union is more often than not up-to-date on current rules and law. Additionally, this provides useful information on work hours allowed, education, parental supervision, safety, etc.
Info about the Coogan Law (trust accounts for child performers) can be viewed here.
When working with minors, a child performance license may be required. This is especially so if the production will be paid or is commercial in nature, or time off from school may be needed. Licenses can be obtained from your local council, but there are some regional differences in requirements and processing times (sometimes up to 21 days) – check here for more information.
Child performers are governed by state child employment laws; requirements differ by state and territory. Sometimes a permit may be required, perhaps especially for productions in NSW or VIC. Take a look at your state government website or click here for a list of child employment-related websites per region.