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When deciding to film a feature movie, music video or TV production in New York City, film production labor laws and regulations must be followed when hiring staff. There are, of course, particular rules that are stipulated by the various unions such as SAG-AFTRA, but the labor laws in New York are in place to ensure the minimum rights for workers including movie production staff, both adults and children.  The New York State Department of Labor is responsible for enforcement of the film production labor laws as well as investigation of complaints and administering inspections.  New York City is renowned for its welcoming approach towards the film industry and has many incentives in place to increase the film production and post-production industry presence and overall positive impact on the State’s economy.

Film production labor laws

Film production labor laws are in essence is really the same as any other industry as far as labor laws are concerned.  General items that relate to the film industry include minimum wages, hours of work, child labor and payment of wages and wage supplements.  As per the date on this article, the General Industry Minimum Wage Act states that employers must pay all employees in New York State, including most domestic workers, at least $8.75 per hour.  For specific rules relating to labor laws, you can visit the New York State Department of Labor.

Understanding union rules and labor laws for child actors

The New York requirements for parents, guardians, and employers of child performers in the New York State, must obtain a certificate to employ the performer, and parents or guardians must obtain a Child Performer Permit so the performer is eligible to work.  There are very strict rules that apply to child actors and these are in place to protect the welfare of the child.  California and New York have very strict labor laws for child actors including Coogan Accounts which must be set up to collect 15 percent of the child’s earnings, and can only be accessed once they are adults.  A trust company must be appointed as the custodian of the account once the balance reaches $250,000.  A child performer is required to maintain good academic performance and the parent or guardian is required to work with any certified teacher provided by the employer and with the child’s school.  Laws are also in place to make sure that a child performer required to attend school is not without a teacher and unemployed for longer than ten consecutive days while the school is in session.  Some of the other specific rules for child actors include:

  • Infants under 15 days old may not be employed as child performers.
  • Meal periods, rest periods, and hours of instruction are included in the total maximum hours on set.
  • Child performers must receive 12 hours of rest between workdays.
  • If a child performer works after attending school, the maximum daily hours of presence at the workplace is reduced by 3 hours.

There are also very strict rules on how early a child performer can work and how late they can finish.  The earliest a child can commence is 5am and the latest a child can finish is 12:30am.  By abiding by these rules, you can ensure you child performers are happy and healthy, and receive the care and attention they need.