California Giving Child Actors Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Due to Coronavirus Shutdown

The entertainment industry has been hard hit by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With film and television productions shut down or even cancelled due to the situation, the industry has seen large numbers of performers and crew left without work -- including child actors and background performers. In California, though, there is at least some relief coming for those young workers. Child actors and background performers of any age, including babies, are eligible for enhanced unemployment benefits if they've lost their jobs due to the coronavirus shutdown.

According to a spokesperson for California's Employment Development Department (via Deadline), there's no age limit on unemployment benefits in the state, which means that even children could be eligible for as much as $1050 per week if the shows they were working on were shut down or cancelled because of the coronavirus shutdowns.

"Per California Unemployment Insurance Code section 1340, there is no age cutoff to receive UI benefits," The spokesperson said.

The entertainment and modeling industries are the only businesses in the United States where very small children, such as toddlers, can be legally employed.

Shutdowns on movie and television productions began around mid-March and have had wide impact on entertainment. Many television series had not yet completed work on their season finales, prompting some to make adjustments to not only their broadcast schedules, but their seasons as well, with episodes that had completed filming prior to the pandemic serving as new season finales. Other shows have gotten creative and found ways to continue production virtually. CBS series All Rise even produced an all-virtual episode that directly addressed the pandemic by having the legal drama have a "virtual trial", something courts all across the United States have been utilizing during shutdowns.


There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Many places have begun to relax their coronavirus-related restrictions, prompting businesses to slowly reopen which, in turn, means that film and television production could resume in the near future. Some areas of the industry, such as commercials and animation voice-over projects are currently working utilizing various safety measures for all involved. SAG-AFTRA put list of safety tips for young performers last week with helpful ideas for how to remain as safe as possible while working including carrying your own pen for paperwork, getting your own food and drink, bring your own makeup implements, and wiping down props before and after use. You can check out the full list here.

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