California law requires that all children working in the industry, birth to age 18 (or high school graduation) must have an Entertainment Work Permit. This permit is a different type of work permit than the one normally issued to working teens by their school. The Entertainment Work Permit is issued by the State of California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE for short). The DLSE issues approximately 50,000 work permits every six months.
Since most production is based in California, child actors living in other states may also want to secure a California permit in addition to any permit required by their home state. To obtain a California work permit, the parent must fill out an application (link below), get it signed by their child's school, and submit any additional paperwork required depending on their situation (a birth certificate for example). Plan in advance - the process takes time!
In 2008, the DLSE offices began a consolidation of work permits services. The permits are now numbered to identify the child and the computer system is centralized, preventing parents from getting denied at one office and then getting a permit at a different DLSE location. As of 8/09, all Southern California offices were sending the permit applications on the Van Nuys office and parents were instructed to send their permit applications directly to Van Nuys.
Van Nuys is also the only DLSE office that will issue permits over the counter. This function is not required by law though, so they could change this policy at any time. Don't plan on walking the permit in!
BizParentz does not recommending using services who charge a fee to obtain a work permit. Why? There is educational value to the work permit process itself. We feel it is important that parents keep their personal information confidential (not sharing personal information with a 3rd party) , learn how to navigate this government gateway to the industry, understand that they are signing a legal document (you are signing that you understand and will abide by the California labor laws), and that they learn to be good stewards of their child's money. That means not paying for something you can get for free.
This link will take you to the current application and instructions for it: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DLSEForm277.pdf
Things to note about the application process include:
- Must be accompanied with a SASE for return.
- Permit, if issued, will be processed and mailed within 3 business days. Depending on the DLSE work load (heaviest in January and June), it can take several weeks.
- For information provided by the school counselor, teacher (not an attendance clerk or secretary) be certain that THEY indicate their title next to the signature. This has become a messy area lately... so avoid the confusion and follow that guideline. Homeschooled families can expect to get extra scrutiny--make sure your paperwork is in order. If you have an R-4 Affidavit, consider sending it in with your renewal.
- Note requirements for physicians indicating information about infants 15 days or less. Older children do not need a physical.
- Attach a copy of the old permit.
Requirements for keeping a work permit valid:
California law mandates that a work permit will be considered invalid if, within 10 days of issuance, a true and accurate copy of a Trustee Statement indicating the existence of a proper Coogan Blocked Trust Account is not attached. Enforcement of this continues to be hit and miss. However, the permits issued now have the following language printed ON them.
Pursuant of California Labor Code Section 1308.9 (a). with respect to the employment of a minor under a contract described in Section 6750 of California Family Code, this permit shall be void after the expiration of 10 business days from the date hereof unless it is attached to a true and correct dopy of the trustee's statement evidencing the establishment of a "Coogan Trust Account" for the benefit of the minor named herein.
Parents will need to be prepared for what might potentially happen at the workplace, and be able to comply with this requirement.
NOTE: Updated information While there are a few implementation questions unanswered, some changes are on the way for options for child actors needing California Entertainment Work Permits for the first time. The Department of Labor and Standards Enforcement will be making available a temporary permit, good for 10 days, to be issued to someone who has never had a permit before. It will be available on line. No more lost jobs because someone didn't get a permit or didn't know they needed one. We think it's a step in the right direction. There will be a fee involved, and it is legislated to be less than $50. In the big picture, this could help the state from having to process so many "what if" permits - for children who unfortunately never work. This will naturally make services more available to those who really need them. We are also hopeful that this will be the start of implementing some other online permit options for everyone in the future.
Read the text of the new Legislation here: AB 1401 .pdf
See a sample of a Trustee Statement (including the information required to be on it by law) here: Statement of Trustee Sample (PDF)
DLSE office addresses