Recorded Media coronavirus advice

Equity will continue to update its members on issues regarding coronavirus, please follow our social media channels and check the website regularly. 

Update 08/04: Equity has secured financial support for artists working in continuing dramas following the complete shutdown of production. This includes shows Holby, Casualty, Eastenders, Doctors, River City, Pobol y Cwm, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks. See here for more information.

Please see our general advice. The agreements that are referenced below can be found in the rates and agreements section of this website.

Advice to individual artists
Keeping yourself safe
Self-Isolation when you display no symptoms
Absence when you display symptoms
Productions & Cancellation
Production Insurance
What happens if my TV production is affected?
TV Commercials
Feature Films 
Audio Work
Advice for Auditions

Advice to individual artists
Members should self-isolate based on the most current advice from the government, and, if they are especially at risk, they should consider taking advice from NHS 111 or their physician. All members should take steps to not unnecessarily expose themselves to risk - in particular they should be aware that not cancelling unnecessary travel plans to affected areas could have serious implications to any support the union or your agent can negotiate for you.

If you are cancelling plans, entering self-isolation, or have concerns about health in your workplace you should have an open and honest conversation with the production team. If this is difficult or you need additional support from the union in doing so, you should contact the union directly.        

Keeping yourself safe
All members should put their health first. They should follow all government advice, but also think what else they might reasonably do.

It is wise in this period to refrain from going to pubs and clubs or other areas where you are in close contact with people. If possible to walk part of your work journey, use the best ventilated transport possible, and routes which involve the fewest interchanges.

Self-Isolation when you display no symptoms                                 
Self-isolation is an important step to take if so advised by the authorities, both for your own health, but critically that of your colleagues, family, friends, and the population at large.

If you are self-isolating with no symptoms, you are in a contractual limbo which Equity would have to take up on a case-by-case basis. It is the union’s position that no member should disproportionately lose out because they have taken this socially responsible step but, of course, we cannot guarantee that you will be paid during this absence. 

If you are in this position, you should contact your agent or the union immediately for further advice, which will be treated as a priority.

Absence when you display symptoms
If you’re displaying symptoms of COVID-19, then you must not go into the work place. You are highly unlikely to be due any form of sick pay, although in general you must be paid for the work undertaken up to the point where you were no longer able to go to work.

Productions & Cancellation
Should it become necessary to cancel or postpone productions, most of our agreements contain Force Majeure provisions which cater for the eventuality that a film production is interrupted or stopped through reasons of any cause beyond the control of the producer. 

Production Insurance
In the current situation, it is likely that recorded and new media production shoots will be cancelled and/or postponed, particularly as Equity has been informed that there is no longer any insurance cover available for losses resulting from COVID-19. In addition, most existing policies will have either a communicable diseases or pre-existing circumstances exclusion. This means that should a production be cancelled the losses will be entirely borne by the employer/producer.   

What happens if my TV production is affected?
Equity’s recorded Media Department is in regular contact with the BBC, ITV and independent production companies to monitor what precautions are being taken on ongoing productions to ensure the safety of the cast.  These are unprecedented times and things are changing daily and we will continue to be in touch directly with production and the deps on the continuous dramas.  Should it become necessary to suspend production, there are force majeure provisions under the collective Agreement and we will work with the broadcasters to achieve the best possible outcome for our members. 

TV Commercials
With the withdrawing of insurance cover for all TV commercial projects last week, there are unlikely to be any TV commercials shot in the immediate future. However, please contact the Commercials Organiser if you are engaged on a TV commercial that is cancelled.

Feature Films
Equity’s Recorded Media department is in contact with Pact, the Producers’ Association, as well as individual production companies and studios to monitor what precautions are being taken for the safety of the cast.  These are unprecedented times and things are changing daily and we will continue to be in touch directly with the applicable stakeholders.  Should it become necessary to cancel or postpone production, Equity’s Cinema Films Agreement’s Force Majeure provisions may be invoked. We will work with Pact, individual films and the wider industry to achieve the best possible outcome for our members. 

If you are working on a film production not covered by Equity’s Cinema Films Agreement, your rights will be determined by your contract.  Absent any applicable provisions, the law views any sort of engagement which is dramatically affected by circumstances which are beyond the control of the working person or engager as being ‘frustrated’.  In short, a frustrated contract is considered terminated with both parties released from their legal obligations and no compensation to any party.

Audio Work
Equity is in talks with all the leading engagers of audio work including the BBC and Audible and ensuring every precaution is being taken to protect our members.  We urge our members to follow this advice:

  • every artist to bring their own headphones
  • pop shields are changed frequently and disinfected in between sessions
  • all surfaces are disinfected in between sessions
  • wear gloves
  • no shared iPads. Scripts are either printed or people can bring theirown tablet/script
  • no shared pens and pencils
  • every booth must be fully aired for at least ten minutes in between sessions
  • as per the government advice anyone with any symptoms are asked to stay home
  • any job that could be realistically recorded from home is done from home. Studios can provide tech support to "clean" recordings

See also the advice for auditions at the end of this document.

Advice for Auditions   

IPA[1] Advice

Conditions of attendance – Coronavirus

If performers are invited to attend an audition or a casting session, they must advise [the agency/the casting director/the responsible party for managing the production] if they have, in the last 14 days before the audition, travelled to areas deemed at high risk from Coronavirus by the NHS. (Please find the list of countries here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/) This also applies to any performers who believe they may have Coronavirus or are showing symptoms of it, as well as any performers who have been in close contact with someone with Coronavirus. 

Performers that fit within those categories above should self-tape rather than attend auditions in person. Details of how [the agency/the casting director/the responsible party for managing the production] will accept self-taped auditions will be available on request. Auditions will be assessed equally and fairly regardless of whether the audition is self-taped, or made in person. 

Should a performer be successfully cast for and accept a role in the production, they should continue to follow all NHS/PHE advice on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus, follow FCO travel advice and take all precautions to avoid risk. If a performer believes they will be unable to attend the shoot (whether for health reasons, restrictions in travel or other reasons), they should inform [the agency/the casting director/the responsible party for managing the production] as soon as possible.

Casting Directors’ Guild Advice

We have been in contact with the PMA[2] to request that all performers inform their agents before accepting a casting if they have recently travelled to areas deemed at risk from Coronavirus (Please find list of countries here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/). This also applies to any performers with concerning symptoms. We recommend in such a scenario that these performers are asked to self-tape rather than attend a casting. 

Please be aware that casting during the virus outbreak may have an impact on production insurance policies - therefore we would also propose putting a disclaimer on meeting emails, specifying the above terms of casting attendance.

Casting Directors’ Association Advice

CORONAVIRUS 
Having consulted with the PMA, we suggest our members might want to request that all performers invited to attend a casting should inform their agents before accepting if they have recently travelled to areas deemed at risk from Coronavirus. This also applies to anyone showing concerning symptoms.

We might recommend that performers self-tape rather than attend if they have symptoms or have visited these areas just to be safe. 

We will also advise our members to keep to the governments guidelines regarding prevention of the spreading of the virus, this means that casting directors and performers should try not to shake hands or make close contact when greeting each other at sessions. This will also mean that we should take reasonable steps to make sure that no close contact between performers has to take place in the casting sessions themselves.

Our members may have to add a disclaimer on emails to agents specifying the terms of casting attendance, as casting during a virus outbreak may have impact on production insurance policies. 

[1] Institute for Practioners of Advertising – the advertising agencies’ trade association.

[2] PMA – Personal Managers Association – representing performers’ agents.

Return to Equity's general coronavirus advice.