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Child employment

Body of Person Approval (BOPA) Licence

A BOPA can be issued for an organisation for a specific performance or for a limited period of time as set out in the approval, to put on performances involving children.

The granting of a BOPA to an organisation replaces the need to apply for individual licences from each child’s home local authority during the period of approval - as long as the BOPA criteria and conditions continue to be fulfilled.

BOPAs should be issued by the local authority where the performance is taking place. In certain circumstances the performance will take place in several authorities, in which case the organisation will have to apply to each local authority.

A BOPA cannot be issued for a child to take part in an activity, or for a child to travel abroad to perform for the purpose of profit.

Who can apply for a BOPA?

  • the organisation responsible for putting on the performance, and for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the children taking part, must apply
  • any type of organization can apply; it doesn’t matter if they're a professional company, amateur group, stage or broadcast - as long as no payment (other than expenses) is made for the child to take part

Who can issue a BOPA?

  • BOPAs are issued by the local authority where the performance is taking place
  • the Secretary of State has the power to issue a BOPA, but will not generally consider applications; this is because local authorities are better placed to assess arrangements made to safeguard children in local activities, to inspect those arrangements and enforce any requirements or conditions intended to protect children
  • the Secretary of State will not consider any applications that do not involve a large number of performances with a large number of children across a significant number of local authority areas

What needs to be considered?

  • the decision whether to issue a BOPA is at the discretion of the local authority (or Secretary of State); they would want assurance that the body had clear, robust and well embedded policies for safeguarding children

    • a BOPA does not authorise absence from school for any child involved in the performances; if the performance involves absence from school that should be approved by the school - but see 3.2 in respect of the ability to approve absence from school

    • where a performance is taking place under the auspices of a BOPA, the legislation does not require that the child be supervised by a chaperone approved by the local authority

Apply for a BOPA licence

Please submit your BOPA application at least 21 days before the start of the performance or activity.

Page last updated: 28 February 2023

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