New regulations relating to licensing by local authorities of child performance and activities came into force on 6 February 2015. These regulations are supported by two guidance notes:
- "Examples of Best Practice – Child Performance and Activities Licensing by Local Authorities in England" put together by a group of representatives from local authorities; the UK film and broadcasting industry; regulators; professional and amateur theatre; music and dance sectors; casting agencies; and the modelling and advertising industries; and
- "Child performance and activities licensing legislation in England" by the Department for Education.
These guidance notes supersede all previous guidance on child performance licences. A link to both can be found below.
The new regulations are a result of years of industry led lobbying on the government by the likes of PACT, NNCEE and broadcasters to make amendments to what was considered to be out-of-date legislation.
The main objective of the new regulations is to remove unnecessary restrictions while at the same time preserving those that actually safeguard children. A reduction in the burden on production companies and others working with children in the creative industries will be of benefit to the industry and will also hopefully create more opportunities for child performers.
Some of the notable changes are:
- Clarification on when a licence is required (e.g. for professional and amateur performances as well as activities such as paid sport and paid modelling). There was some confusion in the past over when a licence was required which sometimes led to missed opportunities for child performers.
- A medical certificate is no longer an absolute requirement for a child performance licence to be issued (although a medical declaration from the child's parent is still required).
- A loophole relating to the 'four day rule' exemption has been closed. Previously if a child did not perform for more than 3 days in 6 months, a licence was not required and rehearsal time was excluded for the purposes of calculating the 3 days. Now, if a child is required to be out of school (e.g. for rehearsals) for more than 3 days in 6 months, a licence is required.
- The earliest and latest hours and the maximum hours that a child can be present at a place of performance or rehearsal have been significantly amended.
It is important to be aware that these regulations currently only apply in England and Scotland, with existing legislation remaining in force in Wales and Northern Ireland. If a production is taking place in more than one country of the United Kingdom, the production company will require two separate licences if a child is working in countries which currently have different systems.
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