A Minor Issue for Reality Shows

Original publish date: March 30, 2012

The question sometimes arises as to whether a minor in a reality series would be subject to California’s child labor laws, especially in the case of a “day-in-the-life” type of show in which the minor is following his or her general daily routine.

Whether or not the production is described as “reality” is irrelevant. The Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Order 12 regulating wages, hours and working conditions in the Motion Picture Industry has jurisdiction over “any industry, business or establishment operated for the purpose of motion picture or television film production.” And the IWC defines an employer as any person who directly or indirectly employs control over the wages, hours and working conditions of any person.

Even if the minor will be carrying out his daily routines, to a certain extent he will be subject to the direction and control of the director, producer and other crew members. Even that small level of control is enough to create an employer/employee relationship. The IWC defines work as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to.”

All minor laws would apply: work permits, teachers, hours worked, etc.

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