Pennsylvania updated their child labor laws in 2012. Like many states, film incentives had a huge impact on the state, drawing new productions, revenue and problems. Most famously, the reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8 (TLC) was accused of abusive behavior as they failed to get work permits, filmed the children without consideration for work hours or the children’s privacy, and didn’t open individual trust accounts for them. The show claimed that as a reality show, the children were “not really working”. After a State investigation, it was found that the show did violate the law, but they did not charge them and instead moved to clarify the law.
Known as the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act and sponsored by Thomas Murt, the new law included work permits, limited work hours, and required trust accounts. The law mostly mirrors California law and SAG-AFTRA regulations. Most importantly though, Pennsylvania became the first state to expressly define reality shows as part of child entertainment law. The language is this:
(2) The minor participates in a reality or documentary program that expressly depends upon the minor’s participation, the minor’s participation is substantial and any person receives remuneration for the minor’s participation. For the purposes of this subsection:
(i) Remuneration shall include one or more monetary payments but shall not include reimbursement for expenses incurred by the minor or the minor’s family or any prize or goods or services received in connection with the program with a value of less than $2,500.
(ii) “Substantial” shall mean the minor is a principal subject of the reality or documentary program or the minor participates in the filming of the reality or documentary program for ten or more days in a 30-day period.
–Trust accounts here are triggered for principal contracts that receive residuals, or when the child’s contract is scheduled to exceed $2,500. In other words, background players do not need Coogan accounts.
–Education after the 3rd day of employment
–Parent within sight and sound PERMITTED to be there 24/7, but not required
–Coogan account required, but not blocked
–Six month permits but they are specific to the production. They are to be obtained at the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance in Harrisburg. PDF Application here.