Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility Will End Paid Background Work For Child Performers
186 The creation of Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility will put an end to paid background work for the professional child performer. Failure to properly define “groups” as those with pre-existing skills allows for employers themselves to define any 20 children as a “group,” avoiding the education and Trust Account safeguards now in place.
- 186-2.1 Definitions. (l) “Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility shall mean the document issued by the Commissioner to an employer of a group of twenty (20) or more children that demonstrates authorization to employ such children in a production, not as individuals but as a group to establish a background scene, such as a crowd in the street, on mass transit or bus, classroom or auditorium, or as in a choir, provided by a school, church or other entity. Such entity shall provide an onsite liaison or supervisor to act as the responsible person(s).”
- 186-3.5 Child performer trust account.” (g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no parent or guardian shall be required to establish a child performer trust account for the benefit of a child who is employed in a production or performance under an Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility issued by the Commissioner under this Part. “
- 186-4.5 Trust account transfers by the employer. (e) Notwithstanding the above, an employer, or payroll service company, shall not be required to make any contributions on behalf of any child who is employed in a production or performance under an Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility issued by the Commissioner under this Part.
“§ 186-1.1 Purpose of Part. The purpose of this Part is to protect the safety, health, and well being of child performers, to ensure that child performers who work or reside in the state of New York are provided with adequate education, and to ensure that a portion of the child performer’s earnings are kept in trust for the benefit of the child performer until such child reaches the age of majority”
Why the Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility Will End Paid Background Work For Child Performers
Currently, child background work in TV, film and theatre is provided by professional performers that are paid union wages, have trust accounts and enjoy the same protections as any other performer. In fact, the Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity cover these types of jobs in their contracts and define them as “professional.” The proposed rule will allows employers to create and certify a group where no group existed prior to production as in the case of a marching band or baseball team. For example, a group could be 20 kids who just individually were called to the production set. Clearly, this rule will allow employers to escape all requirements for trust accounts, supervision, and education now in place for background actors and fail to protect the non-professional performers who are unaware of industry safety standards.
California has a similar provision called a Blanket Permit that producers routinely use to avoid paying background actors. This provision is nothing more than a financial boon to employers. Still, California’s provision only allows children to escape individual permit requirements and does not, however, exempt children from education or trust account requirements.