Some performers like to enter the world of acting at a young age. For those with such interests, there are a good number of opportunities available. That being the case, it is important for the parents or guardians of these child actors to be aware of the laws and rules that may govern the city, state, region, or country in which they are working. These protections are in place to safeguard the interests of the minors in question.
Not every project will offer to comply with their local guidance, and nonunion and very low-budget projects might not be subject to every rule. However, by staying aware of these rules, you'll have a better idea of what is typically expected on a professional production, which will allow you to better judge the value and safety of productions of every level. And you can utilize these resources to give you an idea of additional assurances you may want to ask productions for.
Additionally, in some cases you, as the parent or guardian, may also be subject to rules regarding acquiring work permits for your children, making sure their education and well-being is taken care of even when they have to miss school for a production, and making sure that any money they earn is properly handled.
Resources to be Aware of:
Some of the more common rules that may apply to child performers are as follows:
- The child needing to be accompanied on-set by their parent or guardian for the duration of the work.
- The child needing a child-performer work-permit.
- The amount of hours a child can work being in correlation with their age.
- The child needing to have a trust-account set up to be paid through.
The following sections provide related information and resources for specific countries:
Click here to see child entertainment laws per state.
SAG-AFTRA provides some helpful information regarding work permits here.
Even if you are working on a nonunion production, 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 resource 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.
Please see here for info about child employment rules in the UK.
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. You can take a look at your state government website or click here for a list of child employment-related websites per region.
In addition to the formal rules and regulations linked to above, we recommend seeking out more specific details for your own location as well. Plus, you can find more general advice for child and teen actors (and their parents!) in the Kid + Teens section of Backstage. And you can ask for and provide advice to other parents in our Child and Teen Actors Forum. Plus, please beware of common casting scams and dangerous situations, and report any suspicious casting calls or negative on-set experiences to Backstage.