Child Licensing

Rules for the licensing of child performances

On 6 February 2015, The Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014 came into force.  These new Regulations have modernised the previously outdated rules which now make it easier for producers to work with children.  Some of the key changes are as follows:

There has been a big change to the earliest and latest hours that a child can be present at a place of performance or rehearsal, which are:

  1. for the under 5’s, the earliest is 7am and the latest is 10pm.  Under the old rules, it was 9.30am and 4pm, respectively;
  1. for ages 5 up to school leaving age, the earliest is 7am and the latest is 11pm.  Under the old rules it was between 9am and 4.30pm for ages 5-8, and between 7am and 7pm for ages 9 – 16.
  1. There has also been a big change in the maximum number of hours per day that a child can spend at a place of performance or rehearsal (such hours must fall within the earliest and latest hours permitted above).  Under the new Regulations these are:
  1. birth until aged 5 is 5 hours;
  2. from ages 5 to 9 is 8 hours; and
  3. from ages 9 to school leaving age is 9.5 hours.

The above hours also have to include any hours of education that the child must undertake.  There also has to be an overnight break of a minimum of 12 hours, unless the night working rules apply.

Previously under the old rules, it was much more limited and for the under 5’s it was 2 hours, ages 5 to 8 was 3 hours , and ages 9 to 16 was 4 hours.

(4)  Under the new Regulations, a child can take part in a performance for a maximum of 6 continuous days, as compared to 5 under the old rules.

(5).  Under the new Regulations, night working is allowed so long as the maximum number of hours permitted at the place of performance or rehearsal is not exceeded.  The child must also have a minimum of 16 hours break between the next performance or rehearsal.  If night working is undertaken by a child on 2 consecutive days, there can be no working by that child outside the usual working hours for the next 7 days. The old rules were much more restrictive in that work after midnight was not normally permitted and a special application had to be made for it.

Chaperones have a little more discretion in that under the new Regulations they can allow the usual working day for a child to be exceeded by 1 hour (previously under the old rules it was 30 minutes) so long as (1) the total number of hours permitted at the place of performance or rehearsal is not exceeded; and (2) the circumstances that necessitated it were beyond the control of the licence holder (producer).

For completeness, these new Regulations apply to:

(1)  children resident in England (and those resident outside GB) who are performing in GB; and

(2)  children who go abroad to perform.

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