New York’s Rule to Protect Young Models

By Kristin Kraemer

A law was recently passed in New York that will offer protection to models under the age of 18.  Governor Cuomo signed into a law a bill to protect young models on October 21, 2013.[1]  The bill was introduced to the state legislature in June.[2]  The law will give models under the age of 18 the same health, education, and financial requirements that other child performers like actors, dancers, and musicians have.[3]

Almost 55% percent of models begin their careers between the ages of 13 and 16 years old.[4]  With models starting at such a young age, it is important for laws to protect their interests.  The Model Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of models, played an important role in influencing the passing of the legislation. [5]  The laws that have applied to other child performers have not applied to models until now.[6]  Models have been in a unique situation because they are hired as independent contractors.[7]

A press release from the New York Senate website outlines the details of the law:[8]

• Responsible Person: A responsible person must be designated to monitor the activity and safety for each child performer under the age of 16 at the work place;

• Nurse: An employer must provide a nurse with pediatric experience;

• Education Requirement: Mandates employers to provide teachers and a dedicated space for instruction;

• Health and Safety: Employers must provide safety-based instruction and information to performers, parents/guardians and responsible person and;

• Financial Trust: A trust must be established by a child performer’s parent or guardian that an employer must transfer at least fifteen percent of the child’s gross-earnings into.

 

The new law also mandates that the Arts and Cultural Affairs Laws §35.01 and §35.03 apply to child models.  This will require that the parent or guardian of a child model obtain judicial approval of certain contracts.[9]

The new law will limit the number of hours that child models can work, and how late they will be allowed to work.[10]  They will not be allowed to work past midnight on school nights.[11]

Diane Savino explained that the new law will be enforced by the New York Department of Labor; the same way child labor laws are currently enforced.[12]  The employers will be responsible for paying for the tutors, chaperones and safety measures, not the agencies.[13]  She also explains that the loophole of calling a child model an independent contractor will not work.[14]  Children will qualify as employees under child labor laws despite the fact that they might be independent contractors.[15]

This law will be in effect by the time of New York Fashion Week in February.[16]   Susan Scafidi of Fordham University believes that increased regulations may influence designers to use older models.  The employers could be charged $1,000 dollars for their first violation and up to $3,000 dollars for their third violation.[17]  If they have over three violations they may lose the privilege to hire child models.[18]   But Scafidi suggests that a worse punishment would be the media attention that could follow if a fashion house is found to be violating child labor laws.[19]  With all of the regulations imposed by the new law, it is very possible that there will be a trend towards hiring models above the age of 18.

 


[1] David K. Li, New Law Aims to Protect Underage Models, Ny Post (October 22, 2013) http://nypost.com/2013/10/22/new-law-aims-to-protect-underage-models/.

[2] Charlotte Cowles, Sara Ziff’s Underage-Model Bill Gets Signed Into Law, Ny Mag (October 22, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.) http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/10/sara-ziffs-child-model-bill-signed-into-law.html.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Charlotte Cowles, Sara Ziff’s Underage-Model Bill Gets Signed Into Law, Ny Mag (October 22, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.) http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/10/sara-ziffs-child-model-bill-signed-into-law.html.

[6] Amanda Holpuch, New York Increases Protections For Young Models With Child Labor Law, The Guardian (October 22, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/22/new-york-fashion-underage-model-law.

[7] Id.

[8] Jeffrey D. Klein, Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Steve Otis Celebrate New Child Labor Laws Aimed at Protecting Child Models, Ny Senate (October 22, 2013) http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/senate-co-leader-jeff-klein-sen-diane-savino-and-assemblyman-steve-otis-celebrate-new-.

[9] Id.

[10] Eric Wilson, New York Sets Work Rules for Young Models, Ny Times (October 22, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/fashion/new-york-sets-work-rules-for-young-models.html?_r=0.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Amanda Holpuch, New York Increases Protections For Young Models With Child Labor Law, The Guardian (October 22, 2013 at 1:40 p.m.) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/22/new-york-fashion-underage-model-law.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id. 

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