Child Performance Licensing in the UK

The career of a young performer in the UK can be incredibly rewarding. With lots of fantastic opportunities for children to undertake, it is vital parents and guardians understand all aspects of child employment and licensing in the industry, ensuring they are well-equipped to secure work legally and safely.

The Mandy Network is not a governmental or advisory body and we cannot provide independent advice on licensing for children working in the industry. This guide highlights relevant links from authority figures.

What is a Child Employment License?

A Child Performance Licence is required if a child is under the compulsory school age (16) and is due to participate in a play, film, concert or any other type of public performance where the child is paid. The individual in charge of the project must apply to the child’s local council for a child performance licence. The law to protect child performers dates back to the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 and the Children (Performances) Regulations 1968 (the 1968 Regulations).

The Importance of a Child Performance License

The licensing system is designed to provide a check that those responsible for using children in performances, paid sport and modelling make suitable arrangements to safeguard them. It is a legal requirement to apply for a licence and if anyone causes the child to do anything in contravention with the licensing they may be subject to a fine, imprisonment or both. Safeguarding children must not be considered an afterthought. Certain projects may move forward urgently, and production companies and parents/guardians must understand there is no guarantee a licence will be issued.

Further Information

We recently held a Facebook Live session with esteemed children’s casting director, Debbie O’Brien. She has worked as a casting director, stage manager, general manager and children administrator on a whole host of productions on the West End and regionally across the UK, and she discussed the ways in which she is casting children for theatre and stage projects in this climate, as well as how performers can navigate 2020 successfully and find work. She also offered her expert insight into child performance licenses:

"Licensing can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. Licensing is performed by the Child Education Authority and is all done with the best interest of the child at heart. You are going to be asked to provide a passport-sized photograph (which can be digitally these days), a copy of the child’s birth certificate, a completed medical form and a letter from the child’s school saying they agree that the child can do the work. The education authority won’t give you a license if the school does not agree to the terms."

As explained, The Mandy Network is not a governmental or advisory body and all questions regarding child performance licensing must be posed to your local council.

Useful Resources

NNCEE - A Guide to Child Performance Licensing

GOV.UK - Performance Licenses for Children

GOV.UK - Apply for a Child Performance License

GOV.UK - Child Employment

GOV.UK - Restrictions on Child Employment

GOV.UK - Local Council Rules for Child Employment Permits