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Performance Licences

A very important part of your child's performing career!

If your child is below compulsory school leaving age, and taking part in a performance where either an admission will be charged, or that will be broadcast in some fashion, there will be a strong chance that s/he will need to have a licence in order to take part!

The rules for a child performing are long and rather complicated. I will try to sum up the most important points that will relate to most instances, but please be aware that some information has been left out. You as a parent will not need to know all the ins and outs, but it would be wise to be aware of the basics, just in case an employer or Agent asks for something he shouldn't - or that may even be illegal. (some will try to push their luck!)

If you have any questions, speak to the  Local  Education Authority (LEA) department of your local council. These will be able to give you the most accurate advice in this area, since THEY are the ones issuing the licence for your child. Some agents may give out false information, (not knowing the specific rules for each area or so they can cash in on an extra job...) so please be careful when they offer advice that contradicts the basics written below. The law is in place for the PROTECTION and safety of our children -Not the convenience of the Agents,  Parents or Production Companies. You have a duty to your own child to be aware of their wellbeing at all times, and no-one should condemn you for standing up for or asking questions about your childs rights, especially if you feel that something is wrong. The law is on your side, and you should be on the side of your child!

When I say 'Performances' throughout this piece, I am referring to all TV, Filming, Theatre, Sporting or Modelling activities (its a bit long winded to keep repeating the whole list!)

The Law

It is the Childrens & Young Persons Act (1963) and the Childrens (Performances) Regulations Act of 1968 (and it's subsequent amendments of 1998 and 2000) that say what is, and what is not acceptable as far as this business is concerned. Remember, the Law is in place solely for the protection and well being of the child. These rules have absolutely nothing to do with parental (or employer) preferences, or any monies earned.

The Rules

Lets see how to best sum them up:-

  • For ALL work  (paid or unpaid)- you need a licence. UNLESS your child has worked LESS than 4 days throughout the previous 6 months.
  • All children must do a minimum of 15 hours schooling per week whilst working  
  • A child cannot perform 6 days a week UNLESS  they have 2 weeks off afterwards
  • Children should not be in a theatre after 10pm, they can work a little later than this on only 8 days in 4 weeks. This can vary a little for children under 12 and over 13. Please speak to your own LEA for detailed info.
  • No child shall work more than a 2 session day (ie. Morning/Afternoon/Night) and cannot work just morning and evening (since it is first call to final release that counts here)
  • Children cannot work more than 10 sessions in any one week
  • Children must be chaperoned at all times, boys and girls chaperoned seperately, and on a 1 chaperone to 12 children basis.
  • Children should not work on two different productions on the same day.

If you are only getting expenses paid to you, it is not counted as a 'Paid Performance'. A paid performance is when money is paid to the child or his representitive (Parent, Agent etc.) in return for his having taken part in that particular performance. Expenses are a payment specifically covering, or contributing towards, costs incurred because your child has taken part.(fares, food purchases, certain items etc.) They are usually paid to the parent, not the child

Working Hours

In addition to the above, if you are chaperoning your own children you will need to know that the law regarding working hours are as follows:-

Age 0-4 yrs :   Maximum time at place of performance - 5 Hours        Maximum performing time - 2 Hours      Maximum time allowed to work without rest - 30 minutes      Minimum rest/meal times - at all times while not taking part

Age 5-8 yrs :   Maximum time at place of performance -7.5 Hours      Maximum performing time - 3 Hours       Maximum time allowed to work without rest - 45 Minutes      Minimum rest/meal times - for 3 hours, 2 breaks (1 hour meal and 1 x 15 minute break) for 8 hours, 3 breaks (2 x 1 hour meal and 1x 15 minutes break)      Minimum education - 3 hours per school day   

Age 9 and Over :  Maximum time at place of performance - 9.5 Hours      Maximum performing time - 4 Hours      Maximum time allowed to work without rest - 1 Hour       Mimimum rest/meal times - for 4 hours, 2 breaks (1 hour meal and 1x 15 minute break) for 8 hours, 3 breaks (2 x 1 hour meal   and 1 x 15 minute break)      Minimum education - 3 hours per school day      

There are some exceptions to the above for the BBC, ITV, a programme contractor (as described by the TV act of 1964), or a body supplying programmes to such a contractor for children aged 9 and over.

For all age groups, the maximum time allowed to be at the place of work, within every 7 days period is: 12 hours in any one day, OR, 10 hours per day for any 2 days, OR, 9.5 hours per day for any 3 days, provided the child is not present on any other day that week, and has not worked after 7pm on more than 20 days in the previous 12 months.


How do I get a Licence?

You will always need:- a copy of your child's birth certificate, 2  up-to-date Passport sized photographs, a letter from your child's school, giving him permission to take part in the specific performance, and a form that you have to fill in, called a part 2 (sent to you by your child's agent or employer). Quite often you will also need a certificate or letter from your Doctor, saying that your child is fit to work. This letter is valid for 6 months, so luckily, if your child works more than once in that period, you don't have to get a medical for every job. Your agent or childs employer will tell you if you need to get one of these.

All the necessary bits and pieces are then sent back to your agent/childs employer. They add it to the paperwork that they have , and submit it to your Childs Local Education Authority (LEA) for approval (Not the one where your child may be working, or where the employer is).Please don't send anything to your LEA separately in the vague hope that it will hurry things along. It is more likely to cause confusion, because everything arrives seperately, and can actually delay matters!

The old rule referring to the number of days that a child can perform (40 days per year for a child under 13, and 80 days for a 13-16 year old) was scrapped some time ago, but that doesn't mean that your child can perform an endless amount, as many of us were led to believe by the gossip that went about. What has in fact, happened now, is that the Education Authority where the child lives, now has the say on how much a child can work, in conjunction with the childs school. This can mean that they can grant LESS days rather than more! You will need to speak to your authority and school, on their individual ruling there! - I know of some schools that will only grant 10 days off, and if yours is one, you will just have to accept it. The authority will not grant a licence without a letter from the school with their permission.

The licence must be applied for 21 days before the child is due to perform. On occasion, one is needed quicker than that.(I had to do one in 24 hours once - for an advert filming). Licensing authorities are not obliged to give you one in that short space of time,  some seem to try and accommodate - but not all will. It pays to be on good terms with the school, the doctor, and even the council at times like that! The term 'performance' can be a grey one. To some authorities it will  mean the actual performance, but some others will  ask for rehearsals to be  licenced too (if your child will be missing any school, the authority will need to give permission for rehearsals anyway ) It is the job of the employer to be applying for the licence, so you don't have to worry about that. Just try to be as quick in sending your bits off as you can, so that you are not the one responsible for any hold-ups.

When everything is in order, the LEA will then issue a licence to the employer, that says exactly what the child will be performing in, when and where - with a nice little picture of your child in the corner so noone gets confused as to which child the licence is referring to! Most parents that I have worked with, get sent a photocopy of the licence, - not all authorities do this though. The licence isn't yours - it belongs to the employer. He is then responsible for making sure that the rules the licence was issued under, are kept to.

There is another type of licence that a few LEA's still issue. It is called a block or Open licence, and is issued to cover a full 6 month period. This is really useful when your child is  regularly put up for adverts. Ads frequently cast and shoot in a short period of time, so it is very hard for them to apply for a licence 21 days beforehand. The block licence is issued in this case to the Agent, who is then responsible for notifying the LEA of everything that the child does. The LEA can still refuse permission if they feel the child is being overworked or mistreated.

Note  - a licence cannot be issued after the event, and it is illegal for your child to perform without one. You and the employer could be liable for prosecution.

By the way, a little tip - keep copies of everything you send. You never know when you may need one or two of them again, especially the doctors letter. I had to replace the whole lot one time, when it had gotten lost in the post! (panic stations at the last minute when we all realised that there was no licence...) Also, keep a list of all the days your child has off school, when licences were issued, and any pay received, especially useful if your child works regularly. These are all details needed for the 'Part II', and it can be a real pain trying to recall them if you haven't kept any notes!

Filling in a Part II

Licencing for Performances Abroad

If your child is required to perform abroad, the process of obtaining a licence is different, the principal difference being that this licence is issued by a court, not the local council. Your Agent, or a member of the production crew, may go through the process, but on some occasions, usually when you will  be the Chaperone, YOU may be required to be the licence holder to make things easier. In this case you should be aware of the process, and the responsibilities. I shall talk you through as if You are applying for the licence, but remember someone else may do this instead.

To obtain the licence for foreign performance, there are several stages. At the start you will need to fill in several forms and gather some documents: An Application for the Licence*, a Notice to the Police*, a Declaration form (for children under 14), an additional application form, a copy of the contract*, a letter of consent signed by both parents (unless child is from a single parent family in which case a letter or copies of any court orders, explaining the situation should do), a letter from the doctor, a letter from the Head teacher (unless the work is during the school holidays) a copy of the birth certificate, and any court fees (claim these back from the production company). Notice that unlike a standard licence, no photographs are needed....

The Items marked * will have to be sent  to the Chief Officer of the Police, in the area in which the child lives, at least 7 days before any court hearing. Some local police like to do background checks, some will want to speak to you...and some do nothing. They all need time to send a report to the court, if they should want to do so. At this time, contact your local magistrates court, or if easier, Bow Street Magistrates Court. Some Local courts haven't dealt with this issue yet, and don't have a clue what you are talking about, so it might take a little time to find someone who can help....

While the police are doing the checks that they might want, the court will be making up a file containing all the necessary paperwork. If you don't have all the paperwork to hand straight away, let the court know that it is coming, so that they can start without those pieces. Make sure you or the court have them by the time your court appearance is due though or no licence will be issued!!! You may need to make an appointment before your court appearance for the 'application hearing' to take place, at which time the court date will be set for another time.

Although the court appearance is nothing to worry about, it must be made in person. Some of the basic routines may vary slightly between courts, but at  Bow, where most of the applications are made, you are initially met by the duty clerk, who will go through the application with you. You will then go before a District Judge, where you will be asked to take an oath, or affirmation, stating that you will give truthful answers to any questions asked. The District Judge may ask a few questions about the production, the accommodation planned or the travelling arrangements, or he might want a fuller explaination of the work that the child is expected to undertake. Once he is satisfied that the child will be well cared for while he is away, the licence will be signed, and you will be given 2 copies of it. - thats it..the 'hard bit' over..!!

The Duty Clerk will then give you the address and phone number of the British Consolulate in the area that you will be travelling to. You will be told that you are expected to contact them, to inform them of your arrival at your destination in that country. You will also be asked to sign a surety book, and promise to pay a fine of £1,000  should there be a breech of the licence. As the holder of the licence, YOU are expected to be the record keeper of the times worked, resting, eating, travelling, taking lessons etc. Go prepared! (some great sheets can be downloaded and printed from http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/nncee/forms/nncee_daily_record_sheet.pdf

On your return to the UK, you will need to notify the court in writing, that the child had returned safe and well, and you will need to provide brief details of the work that they had done, the breaks, any tuition provided etc. to satisfy the regulations. Copies of the daily sheets (if you kept them) should be sufficient.

For further information, contact you local Magistrates court, or Bow Street.

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