The labor laws protecting children vary widely across the United States. In Texas, 14 is generally considered the minimum age of employment. One exception to this rule, however, is children working in the entertainment industry. Child actors of any age are permitted to work in Texas. However, the law has certain protections in place for such children.
Child Actors Under 14
Prior to employment, the parent or legal guardian of any child actor under 14 years of age must complete and sign the Child Actor/Performer Authorization form and file it with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). They must include in their application:
- A recent headshot of the child measuring 1.5 by 1.5 inches
- A copy of an official document indicating proof of the child's age
Upon acceptance of the application, the child will receive an identification card that serves as authorization for employment. This authorization does not give the child complete freedom to engage in work as an adult, however.
The state imposes restrictions on such employment to ensure that the child does not receive disadvantages in other areas of their life. Rule §817.33 of the Texas Administrative Code sets forth regulations to ensure that the child does not fall behind in school, is given adequate space to rest and play, always works under safe conditions and is guaranteed certain privacies.
Child Extras Under 14
Child extras under the age of 14 are not required to go through the above application process. Such child actors receive special authorization providing that the employer/agent:
- Notifies the TWC of the work being performed
- Obtains the written consent of the child's parent or guardian
- Notifies the child's school of the full scope and duration of the work
- Sends a post-production report to the TWC within 10 days of the child's final day of work
As previously noted, child labor laws differ by state. Some states dictate then when a child actor who resides in that state travels to another state for work, the labor laws in their home state are still in effect. California-based child actors who work in Texas, therefore, follow California child labor laws.