Equity has responded to plans to allow child performers to start work at 7am – an hour earlier than adults – and has called for more clarification on streamlining child performance regulations. The government has just completed consultation over bringing the regulations for children working on screen or stage in line with each other: when children can take part in performances and the breaks they must have.
The government states that the earliest time young performers can currently start work is between 7am and 10am, depending on age, but that it is proposing to make it 7am for all children. However, Equity has responded by claiming that the proposed time is too early, especially when taking into account the time required for performers to travel to a place of work and the fact adults start later. The upper limit for broadcast work is 7pm for children nine and over, and 4.30pm for those under nine. The government has unjustly suggested children over five work no later than 11pm, children aged between two and four no later than 10pm and not beyond 4pm for those under two.
Equity is additionally concerned that there is a proposal that children aged over five have just three breaks in eight hours and has rejected a proposal to reduce the minimum duration of lunch breaks from an hour to 45 minutes. It is clear that a break of anything less than one hour is simply not enough, for the child performers to come out of costume, take comfort breaks, eat and drink, have enough time to digest their food and keep hydrated and also have time to relax and play. Following this, the government is currently assessing the responses it has received.