The Issues

After the New York State legislature passed the Child Performer Education & Trust Act of 2003 and before the Department of Labor enacted regulations in 2013, the industry operated on provisions found within SAG, AFTRA, Actors' Equity contracts for union performers and created industry practices, that had no legal weight, for non-union performers. The Act of 2003 failed to include child models, dancers, or reality performers within the child performer definition. Therefore, a separate law was passed in 2013 changing the definition to include those groups.

Health Certificates

This proposed mandate forces performers to secure and provide proof of comprehensive physical and mental health examinations, monitors their body mass index and menstrual cycles, and allows physicians to "yank" a performers permit, substantially interferes with the doctor patient relationship, increase production and performer costs, and do not provide any meaningful safeguards to child performers.

Responsible Person

This proposed regulation forces children over the age of six to be supervised, outside the presence of their parent, by a total stranger - a "responsible person," who has no training in child supervision and no criminal background check. This mandate would do away with adherence to the industry standard of providing parents with "sight and/or sound" of their child.

Education

Education issues were perhaps the most complex of the issues in that the final regulations had to balance the importance of providing educational excellence and schoolroom access with convoluted public education law, union contracts, the practices of home schoolers, the individual educational plans of students, and the needs of each distinct industry and production.

Trust Accounts

The problem of missing Trust Account monies is notorious within the entertainment business. At the time, the NYS Comptroller's Office held tens of thousands of dollars in missing monies and was charged with locating the performer, both costly endeavors. Many years ago, California established safeguards to prevent missing monies and promote timely payments, New York had not. In the end, the Comptroller's Office weighed in to ask that Labor work with them to share information, a practice that a legal technicality prevented them from doing.

Group Certificates

The proposed language creating a Group Permit is production friendly but we cautioned that the new loosely defined "Group Permit" language would have adverse safety and financial consequences for the children involved. A advised that a middle ground should be sought ~ one that allows for use of established groups in the capacity for which they were formed (baseball team plays baseball), without the current permitting process requirements.

Permits Once A Year

Prior to the new regulations, child performers who wanted to work in NY were required to apply for a permit every six months and prove that their trust account was open and they were in academic good standing. A later draft of the proposed regulations established a yearly permit. Although parents, unions, agents, managers and production companies welcomed the change, child performers who may have been at risk for academic and trust account deficiencies would be placed in greater jeopardy, as they would now remain without safeguards for a calendar year.