United States: Employing Minors In The Entertainment Industry: A Primer For Employers Doing Business In Canada

Employers that hire minors must comply with a myriad of special rules designed to protect the minor employee from, among other things, dangerous work, exploitation, and abuse.

Legislators and courts have gone to great lengths to protect working minors, particularly in light of high-profile cases of financial exploitation or other abuse. Employers in the entertainment industry must comply with both the general rules on employing minors, and special rules that apply to the entertainment industry.

General Protections for Working Minors in Canada

Each Canadian province has enacted legislation dictating the minimum age for employment in various industries, as well as a number of conditions that may apply to certain kinds of work or work in certain industries. This article discusses Ontario and British Columbia (BC) as examples.

Most provinces have a general minimum age for industrial employment (broadly defined). In Ontario, the minimum age for industrial employment is 14 years of age. In BC, the minimum age is 15. Other provinces set the general minimum age of employment between 14 and 17 years old.

The minimum age in certain industries is higher. For example, in Ontario, employment standards and/or occupational health and safety regulations establish additional minimum ages for minors' work in specific industries:

  1. Factories or repair shops: 15 years of age
  2. Logging operations: 16 years of age
  3. Construction: 16 years of age
  4. Above-ground mine operations: 16 years of age
  5. Underground mine operations: 18 years of age

In British Columbia, the general minimum employment age is 15 years old, though children between the ages of 12 and 14 may be employed with their parents' or guardians' written permission. This requirement provides the parent or guardian an opportunity to ensure that the employment is suitable and in the best interests of the child and that it will not negatively affect the child's social, physical, or educational needs. In order to employ a child under the age of 12, an employer must obtain a permit from the Director of Employment Standards.

In BC and Ontario (and in most other provinces), rules restrict or regulate employment during the regular hours of school and/or on school days (unless the minor has been legally excused from attending school). For example, BC sets the following maximum number of hours of work for children between the ages of 12 and 14 as follows:

  • 4 hours on a school day;
  • 7 hours on a non-school day, unless the Director of Employment Standards has provided written approval;
  • 20 hours in a week that has 5 school days; and
  • 35 hours in any other week.

Each province and its respective ministry of labour have taken special interest in protecting young workers in areas including employment standards and occupational health and safety. There are, however, a myriad of other rules that apply to young workers, including young workers over the minimum age of industrial employment.

Employing Minors in the Entertainment Industry

Employers in the live or recorded entertainment industry must take care to comply with special rules that apply to minors working in the entertainment industry. Both BC and Ontario have specific laws governing minors' participation in entertainment work.

In BC, minors under the age of 15 working in the recorded entertainment industry (such as in film, video, or television productions) are governed by an entirely separate set of rules from those that apply to other minors. These rules are set out in section 45.5-45.13 of the Employment Standards Regulation. Among other things, these rules provide that

  1. The minimum age of employment is 15 days old.
  2. For children under the age of 12, a shift cannot last longer than 8 hours after the child reports to the work location. For children aged 12 to 14, a shift cannot last more than 10 hours.
  3. Special rules apply to working on school days, and the hours at which employment may begin and must cease depend on whether the next day is a school day and/or whether school is in session.
  4. Split shifts are prohibited, as are long lunch breaks (that might otherwise be used to create split shifts).
  5. Time in front of a recording device is strictly regulated, and a specified break must be provided between recording sessions. The length of time and break depends on the child's age.
  6. A child must have at least 48 consecutive hours free from work each week (or else be paid 1.5 times his or her regular rate of pay for any hours the child would otherwise have been free from work); 12 hours free between each shift of work; and 12 hours between the end of work and when the child is scheduled to attend school.
  7. The child cannot work more than 5 days in a week (or 6 days, if the Director of Employment Standards approves in writing).
  8. The child must be chaperoned by either his or her parent or guardian, or by a person over the age of 19 designated by the child's parent or guardian.
  9. If a child earns more than $2,000 on a production, the employer must remit 25 percent of any such earnings to the Public Guardian and Trustee to hold in trust for the child.

A different set of rules applies to children aged 4 to 15 who work in the live entertainment industry (such as in theatre, dance, music, opera, or circus productions). Among other things, these rules provide that

  1. The child cannot work more than 8 hours in a day (or for up to 12 hours in a day if not working at a performance on that day, which exception can apply up to 4 times per production).
  2. The child cannot begin work earlier than 7:00 a.m. or end work later than 12:30 a.m.
  3. The child must have at least 36 hours per week free from work (or else be paid 1.5 times his or her regular rate for any hours the child would otherwise have been free from work) and 12 hours free from work between each shift worked.
  4. The child must be chaperoned by either his or her parent or guardian, or by a person over the age of 19 designated by the child's parent or guardian.
  5. If the child earns more than $1,000 in a week, the employer must remit 25 percent of any such earnings over $1,000 to the Public Guardian and Trustee to hold in trust for the child.

In February of 2016, new Ontario legislation called the Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015 came into force. Much like its BC equivalent, this legislation provides special rules for children under the age of 18 who work in the live entertainment industry and the recorded entertainment industry.

Among other things, the Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015 sets out the following general rules:

  1. Before employing or contracting with a child performer, an employer must hold a meeting with the child performer's parent or guardian to disclose a general description of the role the child performer will play; the location and hours of rehearsals and performances; any health and safety hazards that the child performer may be exposed to and precautions to be taken; any special skills the child performer will be expected to perform; and any special effects to which the child performer may be exposed. Any changes to this information must be subsequently disclosed.
  2. An employer and child performer must have a written agreement.
  3. A parent, guardian, or authorized chaperone (over the age of 18) must escort a child performer under the age of 16 to and from the workplace.
  4. A parent or guardian must accompany a child performer during any overnight travel, the expenses for which the employer must pay.
  5. The child performer's work schedule must provide time for child performers of compulsory school age to receive tutoring.
  6. If a child performer earns more than $2,000 on a production or project, the employer must remit 25 percent of those earnings to be held in trust for the child performer, unless the child is a member of a union or professional association that negotiates on behalf of the child performer and the collective agreement provides for trust holding of designated earnings.
  7. Special health and safety training must be provided to all child performers and their chaperones.
  8. Healthy food must be provided for all child performers.

For children in the recorded entertainment industry, additional rules apply, including the following:

  1. The minimum age of employment is 15 days.
  2. Child performers under the age of two cannot work more than four hours in a day; performers over the age of two may work eight hours in a day.
  3. Forty-eight hours' notice must be given if a child performer is required to report to work later than 7 p.m.
  4. A child performer must have at least 12 consecutive hours free from work each day, and 48 consecutive hours free from work each week.
  5. Split shifts are prohibited, as are long lunch breaks (that might otherwise be used to create split shifts).
  6. Time in front of a recording device is strictly regulated, and a specified break must be provided between recording sessions. The length of time and break depends on the child's age.
  7. A parent, guardian, or designated chaperone (over the age of 18) must accompany the child performer in the workplace.
  8. The employer must designate a child performer's coordinator at each workplace who is responsible for coordinating matters relating to the welfare, safety, and comfort of child performers.

For children in the live entertainment industry, additional rules apply, including the following:

  1. The minimum age of employment is two and a half years old.
  2. During the rehearsal phase, children under six years old may not work more than 4 hours in a day or 16 in a week, whereas children over six may not work more than 8 in a day or 42 in a week.
  3. During the performance phase, a child performer may only work up to 8 hours in a day for 2 days per week, and then 4 hours on any other days. The maximum number of hours is 32 in a week.
  4. All child performers must have at least 12 consecutive hours free from work in a day and 36 in a week.
  5. Child performers must not work longer than 2 hours without a break of at least 10 minutes.
  6. A parent, guardian, or designated chaperone (over the age of 18) must accompany the child performer in the workplace, and a child attendant must be designated to monitor the child performers when they are not rehearsing or performing. 

Entering Into Contracts With Minors

All Canadian provinces have a minimum age of majority (e.g., in Ontario, 18 years old; in BC, 19 years old; and in other provinces either 18 or 19 years old). Entering into a contract with a person below the minimum age of majority has special risks associated with it.

As a common law rule, all contracts entered into by a minor are voidable at the child's option, unless they are contracts for the necessaries of life (such as food, lodging, legal, or medical services), beneficial contracts of service (i.e., for employment or training and apprenticeship), or agreements that the minor ratifies after becoming an adult.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the leading cases on when a minor may renounce an employment contract in Canada involved a minor hockey player who went on to become a professional hockey player.

In Toronto Marlboro Major Junior "A" Hockey Club, et al. v. Tonelli, et al., the Toronto Marlboros hockey club (which was the junior affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) sued John Tonelli, a hockey player who renounced his junior hockey contract and joined a professional hockey team upon turning 18. The terms of Tonelli's standard form minor hockey contract provided that he would be required to pay 20 percent of his gross earnings with any professional hockey club in the first three years of his contract to the Toronto Marlboros, ostensibly to offset the cost of training and developing Tonelli as a hockey player.

The case turned on whether the contract of service was, as a whole, beneficial to the interests of Tonelli at the time he signed it; if it was not, then it was not binding on him and his repudiation of it upon turning age 18 voided the contract. The trial judge noted that the word "beneficial" referred principally to financial benefit. The onus to prove the contract was beneficial fell on the employer.

Upon reviewing the terms, the trial judge found that the contract was uneven and heavily favored the Marlboros' interests, noting that it allowed the Marlboros to terminate Tonelli at their discretion, but bound Tonelli for several years. It also reserved television and media rights to the Marlboros and the value of the training and development "services" provided to Tonelli were not comparable to the amount of money he would pay to the Marlboros under the contract. On appeal, a majority of the Court of Appeal for Ontario agreed with the trial judge that the contract was voidable by Tonelli.

Although such repudiation cases are rare, the message for employers is clear: Contracts with young entertainers must be approached with caution, particularly where they contain onerous restrictions or terms that might appear to be one-sided. The courts will scrutinize such contracts and, if the young person repudiates the contract, it is the employer that has to prove that the contract was beneficial to the young person when it was signed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions