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IV. Entertainers

Normally, the statutory regulations under the Employment Ordinance ( Cap. 57 ) and Employment of Children Regulations ( Cap. 57B ) apply to children employed in Hong Kong. However, “entertainers” are a special category and are exempt from parts of the statutory requirements. These exceptions have been made by the Commissioner of Labour for the purpose of furthering the arts and for training.

The exception is made so that “an employer in the entertainment, advertising or related field… may employ child entertainers of different ages”.

Threshold on application to employ child entertainers

Application procedures are used to protect child entertainers. First, an employer who wishes to employ child entertainers should apply to the Commissioner of Labour. Second, the employment of the children should not “interfere with their well-being, including that of safety, health and morals”. Then, on application, the Commissioner of Labour will impose specific conditions and restrictions on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, children below the age of 13 are not allowed to work for profit purposes, even as entertainers.

The categories of entertainers are further divided into two categories with specific rights and protection:

  • Extras and
  • Contract Artists/Freelancers.

A. Extras

Extras are classified as child entertainers who are employed on an ad hoc basis for a particular programme or production. The employment is limited to that particular production and programme itself, and does not extend beyond that performance. To protect child entertainers, a script or storyboard of the production should be submitted to the Labour Department to ascertain the content of the performance.

1. Limitations on employment conditions

There are certain limitations on employment conditions for extras. There is also a special case for children under 6 years of age where the required rest periods are more frequent. Children extras shall not be made to work under the following conditions:

Time of day

Before 7 a.m. or after 11 p.m.

Total work time per day

More than 8 hours on any day

Total time on school days

More than 4 hours on school days

School hours

During school hours

Number of days/week

More than 4 days in a week

Days in week during school term

More than 3 days from Monday to Saturday

Working continuously

More than 5 hours without a break (break = not less than 1 hour of meal or rest)

Special case: Child under the age of 6

More than 5 hours without a break (break = not less than 1 hour of meal or rest)
In addition: Less than 30 minutes of rest within 5 hours of work.


2. Additional conditions

Additionally, with respect to child extras, free transport should be provided to take each child employee home if he/she is required to work after 7 p.m. Furthermore, it is prohibited to involve a child in acts that are dangerous to his/her life, health or morals.

3. Special conditions for child extras

Special conditions are imposed on child extras, and responsibility is given to the parent(s) for making decisions for the child. One of the special conditions is that the employer(s) have to send past employment records (in respect of each and every child entertainer containing his/her personal particulars and previous place of employment) to the Labour Department, together with the parent’s written consent for employment which has to indicate the school name and class the child is attending.

B. Contract artistes/freelancers

Contract artistes and freelancers are defined as those child entertainers who are employed under a contract covering a certain period of time or on a programme by programme basis. Their employment is not limited to a specific programme and might span a longer time period.

1. Procedural protection of contract artistes/freelancers

To protect the children, a script or storyboard of the production should reach the Labour Department at least seven days before commencement of the employment. This is to better ascertain the content of the performance that the child is involved in. In addition, copies of each child’s employment record and his parent’s written consent for the employment should be submitted. A valid school attendance certificate (from the school head), or evidence of the child’s completion of Form 3, should be submitted at the same time. These measures can better protect children who are contract artistes/freelancers.

2. Limitations on employment conditions

Certain limitations are imposed on the employment conditions of contract artistes/freelancers. Special treatment is given to children under the age of six. A child entertainer is prohibited from working:

Time of Day

Before 7 a.m. or after 11 p.m.

Total work time per day

More than 8 hours on any day

Total time on school days

More than 4 hours on school days

School hours

During school hours

Number of days/week

More than 4 days in a week

Days in week during school term

More than 3 days from Monday to Saturday

Working continuously

More than 5 hours without a break (break = not less than 1 hour of meal or rest)

Special case: Child under the age of 6

More than 5 hours without a break (break = not less than 1 hour of meal or rest)
In addition: Less than 30 minutes of rest within 5 hours of work.


Additionally, each child employee should be given free transport home if he/she is required to work after 7 p.m. Furthermore, involvement of a child in acts that are dangerous to his/her life, health or morals is prohibited.

3. Special conditions for contract artistes/freelancers

A list of special conditions is given for the employment of contract artistes/freelancers. They include procedural protection and certain rules imposed on the parties involved in employment of the child.

4. Procedural protection of contract artistes/freelancers

Employers need to keep documentation ready for inspection by the Department of Labour so that children are legally protected. The employer should maintain and ready the following documents for inspection by Labour Inspectors:

  1. an employment record in respect of each and every child entertainer containing their personal particulars and information about the employment;
  2. a written consent for the employment from the child’s parent; and
  3. a valid school attendance certificate or evidence of completion of Form 3 in respect of each child.

5. Conditions that need to be fulfilled for child entertainers to be employed

Certain rules are imposed on the parties to a child’s employment to better protect the child. For example, it is a rule that children and/or their parent(s)/guardians do not receive any pecuniary reward for taking part in the performance. This includes financial rewards in/under any terms or titles. A second condition is that the safety, health and welfare, as well as the schooling and morals of the children should not be jeopardized in the course of the performance activities. For example, the frequency of performances must not exceed seven days per month or four days per week. A final condition is that the employer needs to apply for insurancefor the children.

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