Did you know that in the State of California, if you are hiring a minor for your production, it is not only the minor that needs a permit? Yeah, the production itself is required to hold a permit issued from the city so they can employ minors. Here is another fun law for minors. Minors can work two or more jobs in a day, but the combined total hours of all jobs cannot exceed the limits of the law. If a minor is working multiple jobs in a day, the final production they work on in that day is responsible to ensure that they work only the allotted hours for a minor their age. Yeah… it’s confusing.
What is even more confusing is that each state has its own laws governing how long a minor can work and at what age. Let me begin by saying…please check with your local Film Commission and ask about employing minors if you are indeed going to be working with minors. With some states you may have to do a lot more digging, but it will be worth it in the end. You do not want to get in trouble for breaking a law regarding minors and working.
Not sure what a Studio Teacher does? Well Studio Teachers care and attend to the welfare of all minors 18 years of age or under. Studio Teachers also help to educate minors up to 18 years old. In addition to a Studio Teacher, minors under the age of 16 are required to have a parent or guardian within sight or sound of them at all times.
Another thing you may run across is a Coogan Account. It is required by California State law that parents need to open a blocked trust account, or Coogan Account within 7 days of the start of the minors employment as a casted actor. This is not required for background actors who are minors. This account is where the employer will deposit at least 15% of the gross earnings of the minor. If you want more information on the dark history of minors losing all their monies to family, do a quick Google search on the Coogan Law and you will see why this law was put in place. If you are shooting with a minor in another state, many states have similar laws in place, make sure you check the minor laws thru your local Film Office or with SAG-AFTRA.
Below I am going to run you through an example of how a day works with a minor, but please know that depending on the age of the minor their day and the amount of hours they can work and be schooled will differ. Also, none of this applies to any minors who have graduated. The below does however apply to minors who are emancipated, unless their emancipation documents exempt them from specific laws, so be sure to check their paperwork.
Okay… so how does it all work? Well, one thing to remember is that it’s important to keep on top of the current laws while in production, as they could change between the time this article is published and the time you read it.
Okay so let’s say you want to hire an 8 year old on a school day, then shoot with them for 7 days. First, make sure they have their Minor Work Permit, and it is current. You will then make sure they have a COOGAN Account. Confirm it is actually a school day for them, because if it is not, then the work hours are different. Since they are 8 years old, on a school day, California law says they can only work for a maximum of 4 hours, plus they need 3 hours of schooling with one hour of rest and relaxation. You must give them a meal break for at least half an hour and the maximum time they can be on set is 8.5 hours. So within that 8.5 hours you must school them, feed them, work with them, and they must have time to relax. You must have a Studio Teacher and a Parent or Guardian with them at all time as well.
Something else to think about is, that you only have certain hours you can work a minor. You cannot just call them at 2am and hope it’s going to work out. No, they have limited hours that you can give them as a call time. A minor working in California can work between the hours of 5am and 10pm on school nights, and 5am and 12:30am on non-school nights. There are also rules for when schooling can happen, for minors in grades 1-6 they must school between 7am and 4pm, minors in grades 7-12 must school between 7am and 7pm. One final thing I will throw at you regarding schedule… Minors have a strict turnaround time of 12 hours and they can only work a maximum of 6 days in a week.
Here are a couple of game changers to what I have said above:
- If the minor attends school before coming to set for a later call.
- You must consider schooling in the 12 hour turn around time, you also have an option of recalling them the next day to school, but you must pay them for the day
- You can request a Late Night Waiver to work a minor between the hours of 10p-12a
- You can request a 10 day work permit for minors, if it is their first time applying for a work permit
So… it is overwhelming and I have not even begun to really delve into the world of minors. I do urge you to stay current on minor laws as you never know when you will want to work with them. The laws are very sensitive when it comes to infants and babies under 6 months. But, remember the laws are in place for a reason and to be utterly lame… I am going to end with this. Remember…children are the future, let’s not take advantage of them.