Murt Child Labor Bill Passes House
The House has passed a bill by State Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery) to reform the state’s laws regulating children in entertainment.
“This is a major victory for the state’s children,” Murt said. “The House has stated emphatically that those employed in film and television are indeed working and must have rights and protections.”
After an extensive investigation into children in films and television programs shot in Pennsylvania, Murt introduced House Bill 1548 to reform the state’s antiquated laws to address the changes in the industry.
“This legislation was designed to mimic the child labor laws of California,” Murt said. “I wanted to protect the health and financial wellbeing of child performers, but also wanted to provide reasonable guidelines that film and television producers could follow.”
The bill was crafted after meetings with representatives of the Motion Picture Association of America and Paul Petersen, the former child actor whose organization, A Minor Consideration, helps legislatures write their labor laws to protect the health and financial wellbeing of child performers.
While film and TV production has nearly doubled over the last decade, the state’s child labor laws regulating entertainment were written years before color television, HBO and reality TV.
Last year, Murt’s investigation into child labor in reality TV revealed that the state laws regulating entertainment were so antiquated that children under 7 could not legally appear on a television series filmed in the state.
House Bill 1548 allows children on television, but limits the hours a child can work. The bill also makes sure a studio teacher is on set so a child actor’s education is provided for.
Among the reforms in House Bill 1548, children under 16 on a film set must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. They can work no more than eight hours a day or 48 hours per week, and minors must finish work by 10 p.m. on school nights.
The bill also requires that trust accounts be established for minor actors, in which the employer must deposit 15 percent of the child’s gross earnings. “It’s the only way to make sure a portion of the child’s earnings are there for them when they reach adulthood,” Murt said.
The bill also defines the term "reality program" to make sure the children who appear on reality TV have the same protections as the children on a movie set.
“By updating the state’s child labor laws, I believe we will encourage more TV and film production,” Murt said. “We have created the clear legal guidelines the industry has asked for, which ensures that child performers are paid and their health is protected.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
State Representative Thomas Murt
152nd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Murt’s Office