Child Actors OR Child Labours?


The word ‘child actor/actress’ is generally used for a child acting on stage or in films or on television. Looking at the legal framework to this issue, the recent amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 put a complete prohibition on child labour. It includes child artists in a hazardous occupation or process in the audio-visual entertainment industry. There is an exception if the child is helping the family. We shall learn about Child labour laws in the Entertainment industry of India.

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution, Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy provide child protection. It says no child under 14 years of age shall be employed to work at any hazardous place.

Two important acts mainly govern the child labour laws that exist in India. Firstly, The Factories Act, 1948 and secondly, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. These two Acts are meant for the protection of children below 14 from being employed in hazardous occupations. Penalties are imposed for non-compliance 3-12 months imprisonment or a fine of Rs 10,000-20,000 for a first offence. A mandatory jail term of six months to two years is also there for repeat offences.

Present Situation:

The existing laws in India permit employing children in entertainment and advertisement industry. Since they are not covered either under the Factories Act 1948 or in Child Labour [Prohibition and Regulation] Act 1986. Because it does not come under the hazardous category.

Since the amendment of 2016, the producers are required to follow directives given below to employ child artists-

  1. Restriction on employment of children in any occupation and process:

  • Section 3 of the amended Act has some special provisions for Children, i.e., persons under 14 years of age. They are permitted to work in any occupation. Only if they contribute significantly to the family earnings by being a part of the family venture. The section exempts those helping their family or family enterprise, other than any hazardous occupations or processes. That too after the school hours or during vacation, from the purview of the Act.
  1. Conditions for children working for media entertainment:

  • Section 3 also exempts children working as actors in the audio-visual entertainment industry. These exemptions cover television serials, advertisement, films or any such other entertainment or sports activities. It also has an exception of the circus if the prescribed safety measures have been complied with.

Below are some child labour laws in the entertainment industry of India:-

According to the Law, the Producer should fulfil certain conditions. The producer shall:

  • Obtain permission from the District Magistrate and shall furnish an undertaking in Form C of the Rules. It should be presented to the District Magistrate before starting any activities in the district;
  • Provide the list of child participants, consent of their parents or guardian. And the name of those from the production who shall be responsible for the safety and security of the child;
  • Endorse that all screening of his/her films and television programs shall be made with a disclaimer. It should specify that if any child has been engaged in the shooting, then, all the measures & care were taken to ensure that there has been no abuse, neglect or exploitation of such child during the entire process of the shooting;
  • Organize proper facilities for the education of the child. And ensure that there is no discontinuity from his lessons in school;
  • Not allow children to work continuously for more than 27 days; and
  • Appoint one responsible person for a maximum of five children for the production or event. And ensure the protection, care and best interest of the child.

The new rules state that at least 21% income earned by the child should be deposited in his account. The account must be in a nationalized bank. That amount may be credited to the child on attaining majority. No child shall be made to engage in any audio-visual, sports or informal entertainment activity without his will and consent. Thus there needs to be a lot of improvement in the Child labour laws in the Entertainment industry of India.

A recent violation of child artist’s rights on a daily soap’s set of Kerala entertainment industry:

The Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) recently received a complaint about Child Labour in Television daily soap. The rights of child artists were violated on a serial set. The complaint was lodged by the parents of child actors. From their complaint, it comes to know that the children were forced to work for long hours. It also highlighted the issue of non-payment of remuneration.

Around 132 children were part of a serial. According to the rules, child actors are not supposed to work for more than 3 hours. Still, they were forced to work for long hours without break & at the end of shooting they didn’t even get the payment also. There was a clear violation of child rights onset of the TV serial.

Accordingly, the council has decided to take up the issue with the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The petitioners were given directions to file a complaint with the police and then forward it to the commission.


These were the Child labour laws in the Entertainment industry in India. Any act to protect children does not cover sports, film and ad industry. It only requires permission from the District Magistrate for all minors employed as an actor.

The children participate in reality shows and T.V. serials may not handle the work pressure. That is because they do not have enough mental & emotional capacity. We can not deny this truth. Parents ignore the basic rights of these young artists as they aspire for fame and money. It does not only seize them of a normal childhood but also burdens them to work. Also, they have to finish schooling at the same time.