Child Performer Laws in New York (Work Permits, Work Hours, and more)
New York passed the New York Child Performer Education and Trust Act in 2003 (aka S.4696 / A.7510 Vellela). The law took effect in 2004 and was supported by SAG, AFTRA and AEA. The law included the general concepts of a Coogan law, along with some education for children in the entertainment industry (including theatre, television and film, and music). It did not included limits on work hours, and for the most part, it did not include print models. It also did not require that trust accounts were blocked, and instead, NY has simply UTMA or UGMA accounts (not blocked from parents).
New York, like many states (including Georgia) has a policy of legislative rule making. This means that elected officials pass laws in broad strokes (like the NY 2003 Act) and the the administrative staff are tasked with filling in the details with Rules. These rules have the weight and the penalties of the original law, so making them often includes a special committee, public hearings and the like.
In 2011, NY embarked on a two year process of “rule making” where they attempted a complete overhaul of the previous rules. This process was contentious, and Bizparentz, along with our east coast partner, Child Performer Coalition, opposed much of the new plan. You can read our letter to the NY Department of Labor here, to get an idea of what the issues were. After multiple hearings, compromise and ammendments, the final Rules took effect April 1, 2013. In November 2013, thanks to an organization called Model Alliance, an additional law was passed to expressly include print and runway models in the child performer rules. You can read about the model updates here..
See also excellent information at childperformercoalition.org for details and the history of the development of the rules.
Highlights of the 2013 law updates include:
- Work hours specific to each industry.
- “Responsible Person” – Parent can appoint himself or herself to be responsible person, or even appoint another parent, with a provision for live theatre that in many respects maintains and enhances established live theatre traditions. Responsible person to be within sight OR sound of the child. Entity (production company/employer, etc.) shall assess whether the person to be designated is familiar with the hours and working conditions and shall conduct a check of New York State and national sex offender registries, and shall consider the results in accordance with Article 23-A of the Correction Law. In theatre, this person is commonly referred to as a “wrangler” or child guardian.
- Work Permit valid only when trust account information attached preventing lost pay for child. Mirrors CA regulation.
- Reasonable provisions for ‘reality tv’ participants.
- Health Certificates – NY Department of Labor has assured us that the certifications will mirror the language now used by schools for athletic clearances (they were asking for additional monitoring of menstrual cycles in an effort to curb the risk of eating disorders)
- Education regulations can found in Part 186.5. Please read them carefully as each child’s circumstances are unique.
Today’s New York Child Performer Law & Rules — Part 186
For the most part, the New York State Department of Labor is the entity you will be dealing with. They refer to the newest regulations for child performers as “Part 186”. The DOL Child Performer page is where you should begin. It has the application forms for permits for BOTH employers and child performers, links to the laws, and other resources. The good news? The DOL has great online resources!
A WORD ABOUT MODELS:
In 2013 a law was passed expressly including models in Part 186. Models should now be recieving all the protections and benefits of Part 186. There is a strong effort underway to restrict child models, especially in New York Fashion Week. Be advised that children walking in NYFW are now extremely rare, and when they do work that event, they are covered with work permits, employer permits, restricted work hours, education and all the other benefits that young performers enjoy. If you are asked to pay anything for a NYFW event, it is likely part of a common scam we call “pay to play”, and these events are not part of the legitimate NYFW. For more on the protection of models and current news, we suggest following Model Alliance, a non-profit advocacy group.
Employers must file for several permits, and child performers under the age of 18 must also get a Child Performer Permit. Unlike California, high school graduation (or CHSPE) does not exempt performers from having to get a permit.
For first time child applicants, you can get a 15 day temporary permit that will allow you to get started with a minimum of hassle. For most actors though, you will want to get a regular 12 month permit. To apply, you will need a birth certificate, physical exam (the same one you get for school in NY), a trust account and a form signed by your school. The parent will also need to submit a photo ID. For details, check out our New York Work Permit page.
Parents must be with their child at work, OR they must appoint a “responsible person” to take over the guardianship duties. While Bizparentz always advocates that parents be within sight and sound, NEVER leaving their child alone, there are a few instances in New York where this isn’t possible. An example is Broadway, where there simply isn’t enough space backstage for one child and one parent. In these instances, the production pays for a child guardian who is the “responsible person”. Bizparentz fought hard to make sure these production crew members are fingerprinted and background checked.
This system has a very significant difference from California ‘s Coogan law—in NY, the funds are not blocked. The NY accounts are simply trust savings accounts (UTMA or UGMA), so the parents can use the money for any expense on behalf of the child. Because of this difference, the NY “Coogan” accounts are not acceptable in California (the money is really not protected), and many parents choose to get a CA compliant account instead. In NY, 15% of the minors earnings should be with held by the employer and deposited into the account set up by the parent. The employer has 30 days from the start of employment to deposit the money into your child’s trust account. If the money goes unpaid (presumably because the parent did not provide their account information to the employer) then the 15% will go to the State of NY Child Performer ‘s Holding Fund in the Comptroller’s office.
Trust earnings often go “missing”. There are lots of reasons for this, including employers who simply didn’t make the deposit for whatever reason. It is your responsibility as a parent to track every paycheck and make sure the 15% actually gets to your child’s bank account. If money is missing, or if you would simply like to check, contact:
Office of the State Comptroller
110 State Street, 9th Floor
Albany, NY 12236
Tel: (518) 474-4022
New York provides for education on set in some instances. An employer does not have to provide teachers to performers who are homeschooled, to distance educated students receiving appropriate instruction, or to children employed under a certificate of group eligibility. They do not provide instruction when it is possible for the student to attend school before they are called to work (example: Broadway shows). Producers DO need to provide a teacher when school is in session, and on school days when the performer is not receiving instruction due to his/her employment schedule In a couple of instances:
–from the third day of missed instruction through the remainder of the child’s employment in the production (this mirrors SAG-AFTRA contract regulations)
–from the first day of missed educational instruction through the remainder of the child’s employment in the production if the child was guaranteed three or more consecutive days of employment
Teachers in NY are NOT studio teachers like they are in California. California studio teachers also licensed as state welfare workers and are on set 24/7. In New York, teachers are there to teach school and are only there on those instances. Most of the set tutors are provided by a private educational consulting business called On Location Education.
Before You Begin: How to Check if Your Agent is Licensed in New York
All talent agencies are considered employment agencies in New York and they fall under the laws related to all employees. You should never work with an agent that is not licensed by the state. The Department of Consumer Affairs is the agency that handles licenses, but it takes a few steps to see the list (which also includes all other types of employment agencies). Instructions and links to the New York DCA are here, at the Association of Talent Agencies webite.