When producers don't pay workers, whether or not they've agreed to share the profits, they are breaking the following laws:
- The National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which states "A person who qualifies for the national minimum wage shall be remunerated by his employer in respect of his work in any pay reference period at a rate which is not less than the national minimum wage".
- The Working Time Regulations 1998, which governs a worker’s right to paid holiday within a contract, or pay in lieu of holiday if it cannot be taken within the contract.
Before you sign the contract for a new job, take a good look at it: is it an Equity contract and is there an Equity agreement? Could you help make it one, by asking the producer or employer to get in touch with the union?
If not, read the contract carefully and check to see if it offers the following provisions (some of the below may not be in the actual contract itself, so ask the questions of the engager before you start work):
☐ Rate of pay How much are you being paid per week, and what are you being paid for? Does your pay include other things like overtime and extra duties? If it does, is this set out clearly? Can you work out what your basic weekly pay is?
☐ Hours of work How many hours are you working a day? A week? How many days in a week? When will your working day begin and end? Is the overnight break specified? What are the breaks?
☐ Overtime How will you be compensated if you are made to work through a break, or over the hours in your contract?
☐ Holiday Pay Is holiday mentioned? If you can’t take holiday within the contract, when will you be paid accrued holiday pay in lieu? Find out more by reading our Guide to Holiday Pay.
☐ Health and Safety Steps to ensure your health and safety may not be specified in the contract, but you should ask questions when you start work and always contact Equity if in doubt. Is it a safe working environment? Have risk assessments been carried out (for example are their security procedures in place for an immersive production)? Are their enough changing rooms/hot and cold water?
☐ Dignity at work What process is in place if your engager needs to raise an issue with your work? What process would you follow if you need to raise a problem or concern? Is there a separate Dignity at Work Policy in place that guard against bullying and harassment? Ask to see all the engagers Policies that will apply to you.
☐ Sick leave Will you still be paid if you get ill or injured? If so, how much and for how long?
☐ Pensions What is being offered? Can you use the Equity Pension Scheme?
☐ Filming Will your performance be filmed? If it is, how will you be compensated for this and will it be in line with Equity Agreements?
☐ Touring allowance/Subsistence What arrangements are made for accommodation and food if you are touring, and are there any other allowances in place that you will receive?
If you want it, make sure it is in your contract. Take ownership of the situation: read through the paperwork and if you are at all unsure, contact us by emailing email@example.com