OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5677

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF CHILD PERFORMERS.

SUMMARY:

This bill establishes new child labor law that applies specifically to child performers (under age 18) who act, sing, dance, perform, or entertain or contribute to performances in other ways. It requires (1) anyone employing a child performer to first obtain a certificate of eligibility from the Labor Department (DOL) and (2) all child performers to hold a DOL issued child performer permit. It requires the employer to hire a teacher to teach the child whenever the child is unable to attend school due to performances for three or more consecutive days.

In cases where the performer earns more than $ 10,000 in a calendar year or the performer permit is up for renewal or a second permit is applied for, the parent or legal guardian must establish a trust for the child. At least 15% of the child's earnings must be placed in the trust. The child can terminate the trust upon reaching age 18.

Employers of child performers must keep and make available for inspection all eligibility certificates and performer permits issued under the bill. Failure to produce either document is prima facie evidence of a violation.

The labor commissioner can fine a violator up to $ 1,000 for the first violation, up to $ 2,000 for the second, and up to $ 3,000 for the third or subsequent violation.

The education commissioner must report to the legislature by February 1, 2009 addressing the necessary certification requirements needed for teachers instructing child performers.

The labor commissioner must adopt regulations by January 1, 2010 to implement the bill.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2010, except the sections addressing new regulations and requiring a report on teachers for child performers are effective July 1, 2008.

1 — CHILD PERFORMER

The bill defines “child performer” as any child under are 18 who resides in and agrees to render any artistic or creative service in Connecticut. Artistic or creative service includes service as an actor, actress, dancer, musician, comedian, singer, stunt-person, voice-over artist, broadcaster, other performer or entertainer, songwriter, musical producer or arranger, writer, director, producer, production executive, choreographer, composer, conductor, or designer, but it does not include interviews or participation in news stories.

Child performer does not include a child (1) found by a court to be emancipated under state law (CGS 46b-150), (2) who has graduated from high school, or (3) who age is 16 or 17 and has withdrawn from school in compliance with state education law (CGS 10-184).

2 — PERFORMANCES THE BILL EXEMPTS

The bill exempts performances that are:

1. part of the regular services or activities of a church, academy, or school;

2. part of an academy or school graduation exercises;

3. in a private home;

4. in a museum, library or religious, civic, or educational institution; or

5. part of a radio or television broadcast for not more than two hours a week from the studio of a licensed broadcasting company where the child's performance is of a nonprofessional character and occurs when attendance for school is not required.

REQUIREMENTS

The bill requires an employer exhibiting, using, or employing or causing, procuring, or consenting to the exhibition, use, or employment of any child as a performer in any artistic or creative service to comply with the bill's provisions and its implementing regulations. An employer must comply whether or not (1) the artistic or creative service occurs in a public or private place, (2) an admission fee is charged, or (3) the child or any other person is to be compensated for the exhibition, use, or employment of the child.

Before hiring a child performer, an employer must obtain a certificate of eligibility from DOL. The bill bars any employer from employing a child performer in any artistic or creative service unless the child holds a child performer permit issued by DOL.

5 — CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY

The bill requires the labor commissioner to prescribe a form for the certificate of eligibility and permits her to charge an initial application fee up to than $ 350 and a renewal fee up to $ 200. Upon receiving an application from an employer seeking to employ a child performer, the commissioner must issue the certificate, which is valid for three years.

6 — CHILD PERFORMER PERMIT APPLICATION & APPROVAL

The bill requires the child performer permit application to include:

1. the child's age and legal and stage names;

2. the child's parent or legal guardian's name and address;

3. for a school-age child performing during school hours, the educational instruction arrangements made in compliance with the bill or for otherwise making up any lost school time; and

4. for each child performer whose gross earnings in any calendar year exceed or will exceed $ 10,000, satisfactory evidence that a child performer trust has been established, as per the bill, for that child performer.

The labor commissioner can issue a permit, in the case of a school age child, only with proof of the child's good standing in school. The application must also include a signed statement from the parent or guardian that he or she consents to the child's employment as described in the application.

At the time of application for a child performer permit, the commissioner must inform the child performer of the bill's trust requirements, including providing the child with a written notice in 12 point boldface type stating a trust must be created for the child. The required notice text provided in the bill does not state, as other parts of the bill do, that the trust must be formed if (1) the child earns more than $ 10,000 in a year or (2) the permit is up for renewal or an application has been made for a second permit.

The commissioner must deny a renewal or a subsequent permit application if the necessary child performer trust has not been established.

A child performer permit is valid for six months from the date of issuance, provided the child, or the child's parent or legal guardian, provides evidence to the commissioner, at times the commissioner determines, demonstrating the child is maintaining satisfactory academic performance as the child's school determines.

When child performer is hired the employer must notify the commissioner of the location, expected duration, and the type of employment (i. e. , movie, television series, opera, play, or other performance); before the employment starts.

No child performer permit will be issued if the commissioner determines the intended employment is harmful to the child's welfare, development, or proper education. The commissioner may revoke child performer permit for good cause.

3 — EDUCATIONAL INSTRUCTION

The bill requires the employer to hire a teacher to teach the child whenever the child is unable to attend school, due to performances, for three or more consecutive days.

The employer may hire the teacher directly or through a third party. The teacher must be certified or have credentials recognized by Connecticut and must provide the instruction required by state law. If the child misses school for one or two days, the existing education requirements apply (CGS 10-184). The child and the child's parents or guardian must work with the teacher and the child's school to assist in the child's education.

The bill exempts a child performer from being declared truant from school if the child (1) has a valid child performer permit and (2) is receiving educational instruction.

4 — CHILD PERFORMER TRUST

Whenever a child performer's gross earnings in a calendar year exceeds $ 10,000, the parent or legal guardian of the child must establish a child performer trust in accordance with state trust law (unless a trust was already established). The child performer's parent or legal guardian may serve as custodian of the trust. Upon establishing the trust, the parent, guardian, or trust custodian must notify the employer of its existence and any additional information required to make the transfers per the bill's requirements.

Not later than 30 days after the final day of a child performer's employment, except when the performance contract is for longer than 30 days, the employer must transfer 15% of the child's gross earnings to the trust custodian. When the employment is longer than 30 days, the employer must make the required transfer every payroll period.

The trust custodian must promptly notify the employer of any change in facts that affect the employer's obligation to transfer funds under the bill's requirements. Upon request of the parent or legal guardian of the child performer, the custodian may require the employer to transfer more than 15% of the earnings to the child's trust. Once the trust balance reaches $ 250,000, a trust company, as defined in state law, must be appointed the trust's new custodian.

The child performer may terminate the trust when he or she reaches age 18.

7 — ENFORCEMENT AND EMPLOYER DUTIES

Under the bill, each employer must keep on file all pertinent eligibility certificates and child performer permits. The permits and certificates must be available at all times for inspection by any education attendance officer, probation officer, or State Board of Education or DOL representative.

No attendance officer, probation officer, or representative can be denied entrance to any place at which a child performer is being employed. If the officer or representative is denied entrance or determines the bill's provisions or state labor law have been violated, he or she must report it in writing to the labor commissioner within 48 hours.

Under the bill, failure to produce the child performer permit or eligibility certificate is prima facie evidence of a violation. Evidence that any person was the owner, manager, or superintendent of any place in which a child performer is alleged to have been employed is prima facie evidence that the person who employed or permitted the child performer to be employed is in violation of the bill.

8 — PENALTIES

The labor commissioner can fine an employer who violates any of the bill's provisions or the related regulations up to $ 1,000 for the first violation, up to $ 2,000 for the second, and up to $ 3,000 for the third or subsequent violation.

9 — REGULATIONS

The labor commissioner must adopt regulations to implement the bill by January 1, 2010.

The regulations must include provisions to establish:

1. requirements and procedures to issue eligibility certificates;

2. the number of hours and times of day a child performer may work, including the number of breaks performers of different ages must be given;

3. safe set and other location requirements;

4. when and where parents or legal guardians may accompany child performers;

5. requirements for the supervision of child performers on nonschool days;

6. requirements for criminal history records checks, to be conducted in accordance with state law, for individuals supervising child performers during work hours; and

7. any other requirements the commissioner deems appropriate to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of child performers.

10 — REPORT

The bill requires the education and higher education commissioners to study and report on the necessary education and certification requirements needed for teachers to instruct child performers working under the conditions outlined in the bill. The report must include an examination of the laws of other states that provide certification for “studio teachers.

The education commissioner must submit the report to the Education and Higher Education and Workforce Advancement committees by February 1, 2009.

11 & 12 — EXEMPTIONS FROM OTHER LABOR LAW

The bill exempts child performers from the existing law requiring local school officials to issue working papers for those at least 16 years old who wish to work in the theatrical industry (CGS 10-193).

It also exempts child performers from the existing ban on child labor (CGS 31-23)

COMMITTEE ACTION

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

9

Nay

0

(03/13/2008)