New protections for children in the entertainment industry
Recently, the Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015 came into force. The Act outlines protections for child performers in both the live entertainment and recorded entertainment industries.
This legislation applies to live performances including theatre, dance, music, opera or circus performances and broadly to recorded performances, which includes visual or audio-visual recorded entertainment for cinemas, the internet, on the radio, television broadcasts, or on DVD or similar devices.
The protections set out in the Act cover employment standards and occupational health and safety requirements including hours of work, breaks, overtime, and work refusals. For instance, the Act places restrictions on the hours that a child performer can work in a day, which increase with the age of the performer. The Act also provides the right for the child’s parent, guardian or chaperone to refuse work for a child under 14 years of age. The legislation also has requirements pertaining to overnight travel, tutoring, income protection, and healthy food.
The Act relies on the enforcement mechanisms found in the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), with the ESA enforcement provisions applying to the employment standards requirements of the Act and the OHSA enforcement provisions applying to the health and safety requirements.
Organizations in the entertainment industry should ensure they are familiar with and adhere to these new requirements, which impose more stringent standards in relation to some employment standards requirements including hours of work. The Act does include a “greater right or protection” provision similar to the “greater right or benefit” provision found in the ESA. This means that where an employment contract, collective agreement or other act provides a greater right or protection to a child performer then it will prevail. Organizations seeking to rely on the “greater right or protection” provision should seek legal advice in order to ensure that the Act is not being violated.
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