BizParentz Foundation

Supporting families of children working in the entertainment industry


Return to State Laws - Child Actors main page

California has the most extensive matrix of laws regarding children working in the entertainment industry in the world.  Applicable laws can be found scattered through the Family Code, Probate Code, Education Code, and Civil Code.  Please check the Screen Actors Guild Young Performers Database for details. 

A quick summary of requirements in California:
--parent/guardian must be within sight and sound of their child
--State licensed studio teacher/welfare worker required  on set 24/7
--work hours limited by age
--overtime illegal
--3 hours per day required of schooling on set on school days
--100% of the child's earnings belong to the child (as opposed to the parents or household)
--15% mandatory Coogan trust account with holding
Two important laws have been enacted in California within the past few years which affect the Coogan Trust Account situation, along with one consumer protection law regarding entertainment businesses that charge fees.   The text of the legislation provides very interesting details and explanations of the intent of the laws. Parents are encouraged to read the laws in their entirety to increase their familiarity and understanding.

SB1162 – Enacted January 1, 2000

Highlight of changes:

  • Coogan withholding covers all earnings (not just those with court ordered contracts)
  • Earnings belong to the child (not community property with family)
  • Established 15% withholding (lower than 30% previously recommended for contracts)

SB210 – Enacted January 1, 2004 – Amendment to SB1162 (History of Coogan)  SEE Also AB533 Amendment below

Highlight of changes:
  • Wages withheld but undeposited that are over 180 days old may be forwarded to The Actors’ Fund to be held in trust for the minor
  • Work permit valid for only 10 days after issue unless a Trustee Statement is attached
  • Parents to receive a receipt from production company when they provide Coogan account information
  • Wages withheld are to be deposited immediately, with no regard to the court approval process
  • Ongoing wages withheld but undeposited for 180 days may be forwarded to The Actors’ Fund to be held in trust for the minor.
    See also: Unclaimed Coogan List

SB1687 – Enacted in CA January 1, 2005
Advance Fee Talent Law

Previous Advance Fee Talent Law regulated “Services” who charge up-front fees (any advance fee prior to the artist obtaining actual employment) by:

  • prohibiting them from making false or misleading advertisements,
  • referring the artist to anyone who charges a fee in which the “service” has a financial interest
  • accepting any compensation for referring an artist to a person that charges a fee
  • requires Advance Fee Services to post a $10,000 surety bond
  • requires the disclosure of contractual agreements,
  • requires a right to refund of any advance fee paid, and to cancel any contract for advance fee talent services.
Highlight of Changes:

Adds to the definition of advance-fee talent services to now include businesses that provide:

  • Photographs
  • Lessons
  • Coaching
  • Procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure auditions (not just work) for the artist

AB1660 - Enacted in California  July 1, 2013
Child Performer Protection Act

This law prohibits a person, except a person licensed as a talent agent and other specified persons, from representing or providing specified services to artists who are minors, under 18 years of age, unless he or she submits to the Labor Commissioner an application for a Child Performer Services Permit and receives that permit.

The law requires the Labor Commissioner to maintain a list of all persons holding a valid Child Performer Services Permit issued under the above-described provisions and make this list publicly available on its Internet Web site.

The law prohibits a person, including a person who is licensed as a talent agent and any other person who is exempt from the above-described permit requirement,who is required to register as a sex offender, as specified, from being permitted to represent or provide specified services to artists who are minors.


 To “represent or provide specified services to” means to provide, offer to provide, or advertise or represent as providing, for a fee one or more of the following services:

  • Photography for use as an artist, including, but not limited to, still photography, digital photography, and video and film services.
  • Managing or directing the development or advancement of the artist’s career as an artist.
  • Career counseling, career consulting, vocational guidance, aptitude testing, evaluation, or planning, in each case relating to the preparation of the artist for employment as an artist.
  • Public relations services or publicity, or both, including arranging personal appearances, developing and distributing press packets, managing fan mail, designing and maintaining Internet Web sites, and consulting on media relations.
  • Instruction, evaluation, lessons, coaching, seminars, workshops, or similar training as an artist, including, but not limited to, acting, singing, dance, voice, or similar instruction services.
  •  A camp for artists, which includes, but is not limited to, a day camp or overnight camp in which any portion of the camp includes any services described in subparagraphs (A) to (E), inclusive
AB533 - Enacted January 1, 2014 - Amendment to SB210
This law amended the prior requirements of employers relating to Coogan Account witholding.  
Section 6752 (b) (1) adds in the following: "except an employer of a minor for services as an extra, background performer, or in a similar capacity, as described in paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 6750."
This amendment will eliminate the withholding and depositing task by the employer for those earnings that are relatively small, indicitive of background or extra work. At the time of the legislation drafting, the Actors Fund had over 36,000 individual deposits, and over 31,000 of them were for amounts less than $99.00.  These deposits are earnings withheld from minors by their employer that were NOT deposited, but were instead sent to the Actors Fund to be held in trust.  This factual data combined with the financial institutions higher deposit requirements and implementation of fees showed that to continue to include the background workers was more than likely a harmful rather than helpful event.
Note, however, that there is nothing that indicates a parent couldn't, or shouldn't implement this withholding on their own.  This exemption does not change the legal status in California that ALL earnings of a minor in the Entertainment Industry belong to the minor, not the family.  Please continue to make your financial decisions wisely.