There are two main laws that affect child performers in Massachusetts, and both are initiated by the production, not the parent:
1. A waiver process for employers to hire anyone under 18 (it is a “waiver” from the usual child labor laws) that is accomplished through the Office of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, Child Labor Unit. This is necessary for all productions hiring child performers. The application process requires details of the production itself, details about each child hired, all the dates and locations of the performances and rehearsals and the name of the set tutor. A set tutor is required for any child who will be working more than 3 consecutive days.
Application for Entertainment Industry Waiver which must be completed at least one week before the beginning of shooting.
2. The Massachusetts Child Performer Law is different from the waiver process. This law is a Coogan-inspired law, designed to protect the child’s money. It is a court-ordered process where a judge reviews the contracts for a minor and requires a mandatory set-aside of trust funds (can be an UTMA/UGMA). There is no standard percentage, but rather, the mandatory set-aside is ordered by the judge on a case-by-case basis. Without doing this court-ordered contract process, the production risks that the child will disaffirm the contract (see Berg v. Traylor for an example) and cause a flurry of headaches for the distribution of the project. The judge may also appoint a guardian ad litem (not the parent) to oversee the child’s interests.
The text of this law is here.
–Trust accounts here are triggered for principal contracts that are court-ordered. The judge will decide the amount.
–Education after the 3rd day of employment
–Waivers obtained for each job, and court obtained for some productions. Parents participate in both of those processes, but there is no requirement for a personal work permit for young performers, as there is in some states.
Click here to visit the MA Film Office to find links and updates to forms.
Child Labor Waiver Unit, Fair Labor Division
Contact: Elizabeth Murdoch