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One Year Permits, Proposed Regulations, Labor Talks
& What You Can Do
On July 20, 2011 Governor Cuomo signed into law the Bill extending the validity of the New York Child Performer Permits to one year. This Bill was not proposed at the start of the New York State Legislative Session in January when it would be reasonable for a "cost saving" measure to be proposed, as some have suggested. No indication was given throughout the regulation process that the Department of Labor (Labor) was interested in one year permits. Hearing video indicates that Labor believed permits were yearly.
It is our belief that this Bill was proposed after the New York Department of Labor (Labor) realized its negligence in proposing a set a regulations that would mandate child performers be subjected to reckless mental and physical health examination twice a year under the then 6 month permitting process. Recall that the "eating disorder committee" (Child Performer Advisory Board) was established to address the modeling and dance industry. Labor chooses not to regulate these industries so child performers are the only group permitted and, therefore, the only group subjected to these exams. SAG contracts will not be able to exclude SAG members from mental and physical health examinations as this regulation will go directly to permitting.
One Year Permits Welcomed by Most ~ At Risk Kids Left Vulnerable
Obviously, parents, unions, agents, managers and production companies welcome the one year permits. Unfortunately, child performers who are at risk for academic and trust account deficiencies will be placed in greater jeopardy as they will now remain without safeguards for a calendar year. Let's hope that the industry makes a considered effort to insure that those who would play fast and loose with a child performer's future ~ don't.
Proposed Regulations Expire December 27, 2011
The proposed changes to the Labor regulations are still in play until December 27th of this year. The passage of this Bill does not impact the proposed regulations other than to allow for yearly mental and physical health examinations rather than exams every 6 months.
As you may recall, the Administrative Regulatory Review Commission, along with several lawmakers, has repeatedly asked Labor Commissioner Gardner to engage in Negotiated Rulemaking with affected groups. Until now, Commissioner Gardner has denied this request. It is our understanding that SAG believes that Labor "will begin talks with interested parties in the very near future." We are working on confirming those "talks" with Labor. We anticipate that Biz Parentz Foundation and Child Performers Coalition will be included in those talks. We have calls into the Department of Labor to confirm our involvement and will let you know when we have more information.
SAG Only Represents about 1,000 of the 6,000 Permitted Children in New York
It is of note that SAG only represents one out of every six child performers permitted in New York and those SAG kids will be exempt from some regulations through their comprehensive contracts with production companies. SAG contracts will not be able to exclude SAG members from mental and physical health examinations as this regulation will go directly to permitting.
What You Can Do
How you can help ~ there is power in numbers and information! Please take a moment to ask your friends and contacts in the industry to subscribe to our newsletter and sign our petition. Remember, once the proposed changes are published we will only have 30 days to respond ~ tough to do without a solid communication network in place.
Below is a bullet point list highlighting Child Performers Coalitions and BizParentz Foundation Recommendations. Going forward, we will be sending newsletters that break down each issue so that everyone has a clear understanding of each issue prior to the 30 day window.
Child Performers Coalition & BizParentz Recommendations
1. Sight and Sound Access
a. Mandate employers provide "Sight and Sound" Access. Either Child Performers must have "Sight and Sound" Access to their Parent or, conversely, Parent must have "Sight and Sound" Access to their Child.
b. Responsible Person ~ Upon mutual agreement between Employer and Parent, Employer MAY appoint a Responsible Person who may NEVER deny or interfere with "Sight and Sound" Access.
c. Access to School Room ~ no exception for School Room. "Sight and Sound" Access attaches to child so where ever child goes, parent goes.
d. "Sight and Sound" Access may accomplished, if conditions do not allow for traditional "Sight and Sound" Access ( particularly in theatrical), by use of a video monitor that a parent may access from another location.
2. Mental & Physical Health Certificate Requirement
a. Remove all language regarding any requirement of a physical and/or mental health certificate, evaluation, etc.
3. Trust Account Loophole
a. Permit Valid when Proof of Trust Account is attached to permit. Law in California. Prevents Employers from claiming the Child Performer didn't provide the Trust Account Information.
b. Provision that Earned Money is the legal property of the Child Performers not the Head of Household. If you chose to Block Trust Accounts California Law), a Child Performer may gain access to their money if necessary prior to 18 by guardian's petition to the court.
c. Remove language that allows production to withhold Child Performer Earnings. Trust Account Payment should be concurrent with all pay.
d. Include language that allows the Comptroller access to Child Performer Permit Contact Information held by the DOL Permitting Office so that "missing" Trust Fund Monies are returned to Child Performer.
e. Consider a Mandatory Minimum such as 500.00 so that a one time day player does not have to open a Trust Fund Account. Possibly difficult to enforce establishment of a Trust Account if day player transitions to a working actor.
4. Work Hours
a. SAG "film working hours" should apply to film.
b. AFTRA "broadcast/television working hours" should apply to broadcast/television.
c. Actors' Equity should establish theatrical working hours.
d. Student Films should NOT have a "Work Hours" waiver.
a. Work Hours & Education Hours must be established so that they take into account industry practices and work together. They are inextricably linked.
b. "Sight and Sound" Access/Access to School Room should be never be denied or interfered with.
c. Education should take into consideration homeschoolers, public & private school absentee definitions, and the school systems from surrounding states. California requires on set location because unlike New York, very, very few Child Performers live near production companies.
d. Recognize that Homeschoolers have a clear advantage as not providing Child Performers with Set Education is a clear cost savings to Employers. Child Performers who are not Homeschooled should not be disadvantaged.
e. Performers should be able to attend private tutoring or their regular school if doing so works within the work schedule.
f. We believe "First Day" Education is unduly burdensome. "Third Day" Education is more reasonable.
g. Department of Education/Board of Education should be engaged so that any language providing for "excused absences" are in line with DOE/BOE language and No Child Left Behind.
h. Caution should be exercised when increasing the burden to production.
i. Production Companies, not the teacher, should determine the number of hours of education each day so long as the weekly minimum is achieved.
j. The School Room should be free from "distraction and quiet" in addition to provided with "clean, well lit, have sufficient work surfaces, chairs and necessary supplies for instruction." More important that the space be quiet and distraction free than clean.
6. Group Permits
a. Group Permit should define "use of established groups in the capacity for which they were formed" ~ baseball group permit for baseball team, choir group permit for established choir, etc.
7. Reality TV Show
a. Remove all language regarding "reality television." Deprived children, including reality TV children, have established protections through the courts and social services.
8. Expand "Child Performer" Definition to include "Models" and "Dance Company" Performers
a. Other States include Child Models within the Child Performer definition. Currently, Models are "regulated" under Department of Education/Board of Education.
b. "Second Company" dancers should be defined as Child Performers. Currently, "Second Company" dancers work but because they receive an education stipend and not traditional pay, the DOE and DOL do not recognize their performance as "work" and have chosen not to regulate them as Child Performers.
As always, if you have questions, concerns or wish to help, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for your support.