We have often written on and Ed has litigated the sensitive topic of using child models. NY State has just passed a new law with respect to the use of child models.  See this article in Crain’s.
This new law imposes burdens on models, model agencies, clients, ad agencies and of course, photographers. The NY Law is somewhat similar to laws in other states which require among other things, that monies be put aside in special approved accounts for the benefit of the child. Photographers need to learn some of the most important aspects of the law which was voted on without very much interest or participation from them.

Stating the obvious up front – Yes, the new law can be avoided by simply employing a model who is 18 years of age or older. Ed’s practical suggestion to photographers, ad agencies etc is to use an adult whenever possible.  Doing so avoids dealing with the newly required documents and the red tape which will inevitably be stuck to them.  The new legislation is now akin to laws governing child actors who perform in television, first run films and live theater. Of course in Jack’s case, with photographing babies and toddlers for ads, getting an 18-year-old replacement may not work so well.

Here are some of the highlights of this new New York State law:

No minor shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model during the hours he/she is required to be in attendance in the school in which he/she is enrolled.
No minor under 7 years of age shall be employed, used, exhibited or caused to be exhibited as a model for more than 2 hours in any 1 day and not more than 10 hours in any 1 week nor shall such minor be so employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited during the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.
No minor 7 years of age through 13 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 3 hours in any one day in which such school is in session or 4 hours in any one day in which such school is not in session but not more than 18 hours in any such week.
No minor 7 years of age through 13 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is not in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 4 hours in any 1 day but not more than 20 hours in any such week.
No such minor shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.
No minor 14 or 15 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 3 hours in any 1 day in which such school is in session or 8 hours in any 1 day in which such school is not in session, but not more than 23 hours in any such week.
No minor 14 or 15 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is not in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 8 hours in any 1 day but not more than 40 hours in any such week.
No such minor shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.
No minor 16 or 17 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 4 hours in any 1 day in which such school is in session or 8 hours in any 1 day in which such school is not in session but not more than 28 hours in any such week.
No minor 16 or 17 years of age, in any week during which the school said minor attends is not in session, shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model more than 8 hours in any 1 day but not more than 48 hours in any such week.
No male minor 16 or 17 years of age shall be employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model between 12 o’clock midnight and 6 a.m. and no such female minor shall be so employed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Child Model Work Permits shall accompany each minor employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a model and each person employing, using, or exhibiting the minor shall at the beginning and at the completion of such employment, use, or exhibition for each day indicate the exact hours of such employment, use, or exhibition and shall in addition indicate the total hours of such employment, use, or exhibition for such day.
The certificate of physical fitness issued to each minor employed, used, exhibited, or caused to be exhibited as a child model shall, in the case of each such minor who is in attendance at a school, be made by the medical inspector charged with the duty of making physical examinations of all school children and for each such minor not in attendance at a school shall be made by a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of New York except that in a city of over l,000,000 population such certificate shall be issued only by a physician designated by the Department of Health if the minor is of school age.
A child model work permit shall be issued by the superintendent of schools in cities and school districts employing a superintendent of schools and elsewhere by the district superintendent of schools. A superintendent of schools or district superintendent of schools may designate in writing one or more public school officials to act as certifying officers in his stead.
A child model work permit may be revoked by the certifying officer at any time for any violation of law or of these regulations or for any other good cause.

 
If you work with minors, ask for all of the above certificates prior to shooting and make copies for your file.  If you are not provided with the required documents do not start shooting. Request copies in writing, of the certificates well in advance of the scheduled shoot.
Model agencies will likely be easier to work with as providing these documents promptly will be necessary for them to book kids and get paid.  An individual parent is less likely to be geared to obtain and provide necessary paperwork.  Logic would seem to indicate that photographers will enjoy a greater comfort level by dealing directly with reputable model agents as opposed to parents.

Will these new regulations provide a disincentive to use child models?  Well, not for diaper ads, where your model choice is either extremely young or very old. Only time will tell and we will keep you up to date on any changes or clarifications. In the meantime, as they say in both  boxing and in Depends ads, “Protect yourself at all times”.