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Child Performers Rule Hurts NY Productions & Performers

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We strongly encourage the Department of Labor to table their proposed changes to DOL §186 and work with affected groups to draft new language that encourages film, television and theatrical productions to do business in New York and protects the physical, mental and financial well being of child performers. 

DOL Changes to §186 Will Drive Film, Television & Theatrical Productions Away From NY & Put Child Performers At Risk 

Proposed Department of Labor (“DOL”) rules will increase production costs driving film, television and theatrical productions away from New York, jeopardize the safety and financial well being of child performs and will have no impact on the child modeling industry, the original target of lawmakers. If adopted, the proposed rules would make the New York permitting process the most restricted in the country. In a surprise move just weeks ago, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) set in motion changes to their Child Performers’ Rule, DOL §186, confusing entertainment insiders who believed that the proposed changes had been tabled by the Child Performer Advisory Board, a committee established three years ago to consider eating disorder’s within the child modeling industry. 

The DOL hearing, suspiciously set for two days after Christmas in New York City, will consider public commentary and then adopt their rules into law if DOL leaders refuse to make changes to what is bad law. Remarkably, neither the Department of Labor nor any of the organizations who participated in the Advisory Board Meeting has attempted to notify any of the approximately 6,000 children working professionally through the permitting process in New York of the proposed changes or the upcoming hearing. Not one of the organizations has attempted to gather input from their child performer constituency or disseminate information through their web sites, newsletters, Facebook pages or email blasts. 

Yet, if the changes to DOL §186 are adopted they will have the following effects: 

  1. Drive film, television and theatrical productions away from New York due to increased productions costs as a result of changes in DOL notification, educational requirements, record keeping, payroll systems, and permitting. 
  2. Contrary to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) “sight and sound” rule, production companies will be able to deny children six & older access to their parents while working. Instead of parent supervision, a “responsible person” without a prior criminal background check will be appointed to supervise child performers. Significant physical and mental safety risks are present. 
  3. Parent will no longer be afforded “sight and sound” access to their child while in the “school room,” during their three hour block for education. Violation will result in withdrawal of the child performer’s Work Permit. Significant physical and mental safety risks are present. 
  4. Mandate two physical and mental evaluations by a physician per year even though the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a study released in the December 2010 volume of Pediatrics, failed to include child actors within their at-risk group. This make-shift tax on child performers will provide barriers to out-of-state workers, result in doctor shopping and is unnecessary because adequate protections for child performers currently exist. HIPPA right to privacy violations are clearly present with no safeguards provided. 
  5. Do nothing to protect the child performer’s earnings and increases the probability that the child will not receive the entirety of their paycheck by creating an even more confusing matrix of possible Trust Account payment dates depending on the length of the child’s employment. 
  6. Put an end to paid background work for the professional child performer by allowing production companies to define any 20 children as a “group”, apply for a Employer Certificate of Group Eligibility, and thereby avoid the education and Trust Account safeguards now in place.

Child Performers Coalition

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