Guidance on Non-Disclosure Agreements

Use and Misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements in the UK Film, Television and Games Industries: Guidance from Equity for Performers

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are widely used across the UK audio-visual industries. Our guidance aims to clarify what is, and what is not, reasonable and lays out a set of standards by which NDAs may be reasonably understood and used. It is primarily intended as guidance for artists and talent (Performers).

Below on this page you will find our position on NDAs and how we will work with industry stakeholders to make sure they are used in a reasonable way.

In this section you can also find:

Summary of our position

  1. Equity recognises and fully respects the need to protect identifiable, valuable and substantive confidential information. It is in the interests of the entire industry that NDAs (where needed) do this this in a clear, legal, enforceable, fair and targeted way.
  2. However, Equity has deep concerns about the damaging impact of NDAs on our fight to eradicate harassment and abuse from the audio-visual industry; and commits to combatting agreements and practices which serve to isolate and gag Performers.
  3. Equity calls upon the industry to remove the duress under which Performers are placed whereby they are obliged to sign an NDA as a pre-condition of their being auditioned or cast.
  4. Equity rejects the current excessive use of unnecessary, bullying and over-reaching NDAs. It is not acceptable that Performers should feel pressured, confused or misled.
  5. Equity asks the industry as a whole to better understand and manage the issues of confidentiality and to stand together against unreasonable NDAs.

Current NDAs and practices not only harm Performers but damage the vital trust and honesty between Performers, casting directors, agents and producers which lies at the heart of the UK entertainment industry. They may not even provide the protection that Engagers seek.

What we will do

We will work with stakeholders within the industry to:

  1. Reach cross-industry agreement that the use of NDAs should be limited to where they are strictly required, including eradicating unreasonable pre-audition NDAs and practices, We suggest that the industry works towards an agreed NDA template that conforms to the law, gives reassurance to Engagers on commercially sensitive material and confidentiality, whilst also giving the Performer reassurance.
  2. Make all NDAs fit for purpose and compliant with UK law and best practice.
  3. Ensure that NDA documents and practices do not intentionally or unintentionally bully or isolate Performers, and thereby undermine vital cross-industry work to eradicate harassment and abuse in the audio-visual sector.
  4. Equity cannot accept the position where, unless Performers sign an NDA, they are threatened with the loss of a job or of the possibility of not being auditioned or cast for a project.
  5. It is important that those asked to sign an NDA are entitled to seek advice on it from professional advisers, such as agents, their trade union, legal or tax advisors and/or medical professionals and counsellors, who are bound by a duty of confidentiality.

The spirit of this guidance is underpinned by mutual respect within the industry. All stakeholders should realise that where an NDA does not meet the requirements explained in this document it may not be enforceable at all. This would mean that Engagers do not have the protection they seek whilst vital trust is eroded within the industry. It is in all stakeholders’ interests to maintain honest and open routes of communication and to ensure that - where they are genuinely required - Non-Disclosure Agreements and the processes that surround them are clear, fair, fit for purpose and enforceable.

Also in this section

"One major fear for performers is that if they sign an NDA, they then cannot discuss it or what happens at work. But Equity’s position is clear: an NDA should never prevent a performer from disclosing information about the agreement to their professional advisors, such as their union, agent, legal or tax advisors, medical professionals, and indeed law enforcement."  

John Barclay, Equity