Before the passing of this law, a child performer in the state of New York was anyone under the age of 18 in the artistic or creative services (New York Arts & Cultural Affairs Law sections 35.03 and 35.05). Only that models were excluded from this law. Consequentially, a child model had no legal recourse for any child labor law violation. Child Models need health, educational, and financial protection too. They work long hours, sometimes miss school, experience financial mismanagement, and are may be subject to very egregious violations such as sexual abuse so it is very important that they have legal protection. Check out our post on Model Law 101.
Many model supporters in the fashion industry knew that it was time for a change. Under the leadership of Sara Ziff, fashion model, and founder and director of the Model Alliance (MA), MA proposed a petition to give child models the same legal protections as all child performers on June 9, 2013. The bill was introduced by Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, State Senate Labor Committee Chairwoman Diane Savino, and House of Asseblyman Steven Otis. Subsequently, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed it. Now that it is signed into law, it goes into effect after 30 days.
What changes can NY child models and employers expect to see?
- designation of a responsible person to supervise their work place if they are under 16
- employers must provide nurses and pediatric care on hand at all times
- a healthy and safe environment
- teachers with a designated work space for tutoring/education, breaks and snack times (aww)
- no working earlier than 5 a.m. and no later than 10 p.m. on school nights; and no later than 12:39 a.m. on non-school nights
- the child or parent's guardian and employer must transfer at least 15% of the child's gross earnings into a separate bank account
Fashion Legallaire's tips: It is always best to consult a fashion attorney to make sure that you are following employment practices with your fashion company. Nobody wants to be known as violating child rights so make sure that you understand the law well and follow it. Make sure that the area is safe and healthy for your child models, their families, and your staff with the necessary health and educational professionals on hand with designated work areas. Lastly, when in doubt, if you do not need a child model just hire an adult model. On top of other legalities, hiring a child model requires more legal documents like work permits, certificates, and more contracts so cross all your t's and dot all of your i's .
Hopefully this new American law will bring change in other fashion industries of the world. Many European countries are notorious for harsh conditions when it comes to child models.