Child Labor Laws for Entertainment in New Mexico

Many families may recall that the legislation for child performer’s working in New Mexico was passed in April 2007 and went into effect June 2007.  This was widely reported in connection to the Kid Nation controversy, with many entities asking if stronger regulations would have better protected the children. In fact, New Mexico had changed their laws already, they just went into effect after the filming of Kid Nation was completed.

New Mexico’s form of government has two kinds of regulations: laws and rules. The labor department, aka Department of Workforce Solutions is responsible for promulgating rules for employers based on safety and education.

PRO TIP:  Download this PDF flyer published by the Department of Workforce Solutions.  It summarizes the rules and laws!  Pre-authorization certificate

Employers must get a pre-authorization certificate before production begins, but the parents must give them several pieces of information before they can apply.  There are two applications, one for principals and one for background players. The principal application can be found here.

The certificate is specific to a job and a child. In other words, a certificate would be required for each child on the job. There are many components to the application, including:

  • Project name – address – and a minimum of 3 contact names
  • Child information – including proof of age, name and grade level of school (but no school permission required)
  • Medical authorization if the child is 6 months old or less
  • Parent / Legal Guardian name, address, phone number and “permission”
  • Teacher certification
  • Certified Trainer/Technician (if special effects or stunts are involved)
  • Trust Fund Account – parent signature stating trust fund has been set up
  • Background Checks – for teacher, trainer/technician

Work hours

  • No work before 5:00 a.m. or after 10:00 p.m. on evenings preceding school days.
  • The time is increased to 12:00 a.m. on days preceding non-school days.
  • Time at the place of employment may be increased by ½ hour for a meal period.
  • Infants to 6 months – at work place for 2 hours with no more than 20 minutes work time. Note: additional physician certification required
  • 7 months to 2 years – at work place for 4 hours, work for 2 hours.
  • 3 years to 5 years – at work place for 6 hours, work for 3 hours.
  • 6 years to 8 years – at work place for 8 hours, 4 hours work + 3 schooling + 1 rest and relaxation. Work time may be increased to 6 hours for non-school days
  • 9 years to 15 years – at work place for 9 hours, 5 hours work + 3 schooling + 1 rest and relaxation. Work time may be increased to 7 hours for non-school days
  • 16 years to 18 years – at work place for 10 hours, 6 hours work + 3 schooling + 1 rest and relaxation. Work time may be increased to 8 hours for non-school days

There are provisions for production to get a waiver of work hours, and specifications about travel time and what is included in the workday hours. Please refer to the specific rules.

Trust Account Requirements

  • Applies only to jobs with $1,000 gross earnings or greater
  • To be opened in child’s state of residence within 7 days of signing a contract
  • Trustee’s to notify employer of the account specifications within 15 days of employment
  • Employer to provide trustee with a receipt upon accepting bank information
  • Employer to transfer funds to district court if they have no account information in 90 days
  • District court to appoint a trustee if they receive funds from employer

Other items of interest

  • Certified Teacher is present only during the time reserved for school.
  • Children ages 6 to 18 must be provided with a teacher for each group of 10 or fewer child performers.
  • Parents are to remain in eyesight and earshot of their children at all times other than time periods in which the teachers are teaching school.
  • Producers who violate the provisions may be penalized by the non-issuance of subsequent pre-authorization certificates for a 2 year period.


For more information on the implementation of New Mexico’s rules and laws for child performers, please contact the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

Child Labor Compliance Officer
Labor Relations Division
Child Labor Section
401 Broadway NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Phone: (505)841-4406
Fax: (505)841-4424