TV, Film, Audio & Commercials: Return to work guidance

Since the Covid-19 pandemic brought TV and Film production to a standstill in the UK, Equity has been engaging with broadcasters and industry bodies to feed into guidance and return to work protocols which will enable a safe return to production in the weeks ahead.

The various guidance documents currently available are:

The UK Broadcasters’ guidance covers the broad range and scale of all TV programme making in every genre for TV and is complementary to the BFC guidance on managing the risks associated with film and high-end TV drama production.

The union’s primary concern is that the safety and wellbeing of Equity members is ensured when production resumes.

We encourage you to familiarise yourself with the range of measures you are likely to be asked to comply with in the workplace.

Details of all new measures and procedures should be made available to you in advance, giving you enough time to read and understand them, so that you can make an informed decision on whether you feel safe to undertake the work, and comply with any requirements made of you on the day.

Ultimately, only you can decide whether you will return to the workplace taking into consideration the health and safety measures put in place by the production and the risks to your own health that returning to work entails. Be sure to review the guidance and risk assessments that should be made available to you before the start of any engagement. If you think that a workplace has not taken appropriate steps to ensure your safety, please contact Equity.

You can expect to see the following measures being taken by productions:

  • Risk assessments – government guidance is that detailed Covid-19 risk assessments are conducted in advance of any work taking place and we expect these to be made available to artists prior to the start of their engagement
  • Travel – travel will be minimised and there will be requirements to follow social distancing principles within travel arrangements. Private transport should be used wherever possible
  • Social distancing – you will be required to observe social distancing. The venue/studio/location and all work practices will be adjusted to allow for social distancing and the number of people in any given location will be kept to a minimum
  • Health declarations - you may be required to submit to a temperature check on arrival and sign a form to confirm you are well enough to work
  • Hygiene – you will be required to follow strict personal hygiene measures and new cleaning and hygiene procedures are likely to be in place
  • Costume, hair and makeup - special arrangements should be in place in order to minimise the risk of passing infection
  • Work patterns – the number of people will be kept to a minimum and work patterns will enable people to work in small groups who don’t come into contact with other groups
  • Masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment – other forms of control and risk mitigation are considered to be more effective than PPE so use of PPE is very much a last resort to be implemented only if social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Mental health – producers are required to consider the potential mental health impact for those working on productions
  • Equality law - in applying the guidance, producers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals. It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability. Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.

Advice for members who are in clinically vulnerable groups:

Clinically extremely vulnerable

Government guidance is that all people with serious health conditions that make them extremely vulnerable (the “shielding” category) must not attend work.  If you are in this category, you will have a letter from the NHS informing you of this.

You would be in breach of current Government advice if you were to consider working.

Clinically vulnerable

The Government advice on social distancing lists a series of categories, such as those aged over 70, and further conditions, including pregnancy, which put employees at increased risk of serious illness if they were to contract Covid-19. 

There are some group of workers, for example those who are black or minority ethnic (BME) who have been shown to be disproportionately affected by Covid-19.  We strongly encourage these groups of workers to read the Government guidance for clinically vulnerable groups and seek advice from their GP or a hospital clinician.

Equity’s advice is that if you fall into the clinically vulnerable category, or live in a household where people are in the clinically extremely vulnerable category, you should inform the engager so that your participation can be considered individually. With your permission, the engager should seek information from your medical professional (such as your GP) and, if appropriate, any company medical advisor to determine whether you are able to work. The engager should undertake an individual risk assessment to determine whether there are any health and safety measures they need to put in place to mitigate any increased risk of infection you may be exposed to.

When you inform the engager, you do not have to tell them the nature of your condition but you can choose to do this if you wish.

Equity continues to engage with broadcasters and producers on individual productions to ensure appropriate consideration is given to ensuring the health and safety of our members when production resumes.

On Monday June 8 we’re hosting an Equity Zooms In On… session on Television, Film & Streaming Services.You can sign up on Eventbrite here, and Zoom information will be sent to registered guests ahead of the meeting.