California has long had a law requiring that children seeking to be employed in entertainment productions, or as advertising or photographic models, must obtain an Entertainment Work Permit prior to beginning work. See Cal. Labor Code § 1285 et seq.; see also 8 C.C.R. 11750 et seq. The Entertainment Work Permits were issued free of charge upon submission of the application, which required, among other things, proof of the child’s school attendance, adequate grades, and health records. However, since the permits were not tracked in a meaningful way, some parents had little incentive to obtain them in the first place.

The California Legislature has sought to address this issue through the passage of a new law – A.B. 402. The new law, if signed by the governor, would require permit seekers to pay a fee of $50 every six months to obtain the required authorization. The money collected from these fees would be deposited into the Entertainment Work Permit Fund, and would be available for use by the Labor Commissioner to make at least one unannounced site visit per quarter to a randomly selected set or production facility where one or more children are working under Entertainment Work Permits; the money would also be used to develop and enhance an Internet website, informational materials, and training provided to studio teachers.

The bill was supported by SAG, but opposed by The Hollywood Group and Republican Assemblyman and 2010 Senate Candidate Chuck Devore.

Why This Matters: A.B. 402 would provide a sourcing of financing to visit production facilities where children are working under Entertainment Work Permits, and in fact would require the Labor Commissioner to make at least one such visit per quarter. By placing a requirement on the Labor Commissioner to make site inspections, there will be an enhanced incentive on the part of the production facility, as well as on the producer and/or advertiser, to comply with all child actor-related laws, including working-condition regulations and the establishment of Coogan Trust Accounts.