An interesting report from The Work Foundation (via Lancaster University) has just landed. Published in partnership with Unison, it looks at the choices and experiences of those in insecure work, and the kinds of interventions that could support them into better-paid, more secure jobs in the future.
We should bear in mind that the report starts from the (largely correct) assumption that insecure work is sub-optimal for much of the workforce, and that participation in this part of the economy is the result of falling into a trap of one kind or another.
It’s true for a lot of the economy, but not always for people who work in the entertainment sector who were always part of The Gig Economy long before the bogus forms of self-employment promoted by delivery companies and suchlike were even heard of.
From the summary: Continue reading
This site has carried plenty of posts about freelancing and employment status, tax status, their pension status, and it probably needs a bit more on the generality of freelancing. We often debate whether ‘freelancer’ is even a thing.
It doesn’t exist as a tax, employment, or pension status, yet, we’ve all met people with all of the different tax and employment statuses describing themselves as freelancers. I’d argue that freelancers do exist as a meaningful group with common interests as they have a lot of things in common due to the relationship they have with the people that they work for.
Firstly, because it’s not all downside, we need to remember that some freelancers enjoy the freedom and independence that their working life gives them. Periodic reports, including this one from IPSE [pdf] show that self-employed people are happier and more engaged at work than more conventionally employed workers (caveat; both of those reports were published pre-pandemic, the generality undoubtedly masks plenty of workers who feel trapped in freelance employment when they’d prefer something more permanent).
For example… Continue reading
Posted in Employment Law and Rights, Employment status, Equipment and kit, Freelance working, Freelancer rights, Gig economy workers, IR35, Management, Personal Service Companies, Productivity, Skills & capacity, Tax, Universal Credit, Welfare and benefits, Wellbeing, Work-life balance
Tagged Equity, Minimum Income Floor, Work Intensity
The RAC is reporting a claim that is being made about the availability of a blood-based test that checks for tiredness in drivers who have been involved in accidents, and quoting Professor Shantha Rajaratnam, also of Monash University (in Queensland, Australia) saying…
“With the right investment to be able to scale this, I reckon that within five years we will be able to implement these biomarker-based tests.”
The implication that the RAC draw is that this will be possible, and therefore, it will be coming to the UK.
All of this follows the publication – in April – of an Australian research paper – How Tired is Too Tired to Drive? A Systematic Review Assessing the Use of Prior Sleep Duration to Detect Driving Impairment [pdf] says… Continue reading
It’s been a bad few weeks for cinemas in the UK with Empire Cinemas putting a number of their companies into administration – closing six of its 14 cinemas (Bishops Stortford, Catterick Garrison, Sunderland, Swindon, Walthamstow, Wigan) and a further theatre in Sutton Coldfield which was already closed will not now reopen.
Prior to this, the Odeon chain had also closed five cinemas (Oxford, Blackpool, Weston-super-mare, Ayrshire, and Banbury). General industry wisdom is that the pre-pandemic figures are not going to be repeated any time soon and that blockbuster releases in particular are not the consistent and predictable investments that they once were. Continue reading
Posted in Cinema exhibition, Economics, Feature film data, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, High End TV data, Low budget features, SVoD
Tagged Cinema/Theatrical release, European Audiovisual Observatory, Independent production sector, SAG/AFTRA
It’s a couple of years since I posted here about meal expenses, so a small update is probably due – particularly given the inflationary leap that we’ve seen over the past couple of years.
Prior to 2016, HMRC had a published tariff of what they regarded as a reasonable set of expense rates for meals. That link also gives helpful advice on what circumstances they treat it as acceptable for you to treat a meal as a business expense (either as a Sole Trader treating a meal receipt as a business expense that reduces taxable profit or as an employer who accepts an expense claim from an employee).
More recent guidance says that, as a self-employed person, you can claim “reasonable” costs of food and drink when you’re traveling for business. Continue reading
As widely expected, The Bank of England has increased rates to 5% from 4.5%. This is the 13th increase in a row, and it is a response to Inflation Rates that are remaining stubbornly high.
The recently-announced May 2023 RPI figure is 11.3% – down from 11.4% in April. The May CPI figure remains unchanged from April at 8.7%. Once again, as the FT pointed out, all of the main global forecasters that we’d expect to predict this fairly accurately (the IMF, the ECB and the Federal Reserve) are doing little better than the Bank of England [£].
Coupled with an historic failure to realise that productivity growth would fail to rise after the global financial crash of 2008, or the largely-resultant stagnation in real wages since.
As ever, the BBC are quick off the mark with a briefing on how this will affect individuals – here.
The question of flexible and ‘WFH’ employment has become a vexed one in recent years. Anecdotal claims about how WFH damages work-life balance with people voluntariliy working longer hours have been quite widespread (along with other downsides).
Other surveys have been more upbeat. An (admittedly flawed opt-in) 2022 Cardiff University survey of 100,000 responses found that they had more flexibility and control over their lives, along with supportive managers, better promotion prospects, and more job security. The way that WFH breaks a lot of workplace cliques has also been seen as resulting in more promotions based on merit than before. The CIPD Good Work Index of 2022 [pdf] is also generally positive. Continue reading
Bectu’s Post Production & Facilities Branch have published an Assistant Editor’s Toolkit, a new professional resource to support Editorial Trainees and Assistant Editors’ career development in the cutting room.It includes a Skills Guide – a comprehensive document to keep track of technical skills you have learnt from job to job, separated into Avid Media Composer, Paperwork, Rushes, Turnovers and Editing, along with a Review Guide – a document to give Editors the space to reflect on their current job, including what skills they have learnt and what they would like to learn next.
You can view the whole thing on the Rough Assembly website – here.
Posted in Film & TV industry data, Freelance working, Health & Safety, Long hours, Mental Health, Safe working practices, Skills & capacity, Trades Unions, Wellbeing, Work-life balance
Tagged Bectu branch activity, Bectu branch websites, Bectu Mental Health and Welbeing Policy
HSE has improved its online guidance on managing health and safety and controlling risks for businesses.
There are no changes to legal requirements, but the new design and structure will help you quickly find and understand what your business must do to comply with health and safety laws. There is now a new, brief guide providing an introduction to managing health and safety. This will help you:
- understand what managing health and safety means
- find the right guidance for your business
- use the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach to manage health and safety in a way that is simple and proportionate to your risks, while still complying with the law.
Under new legislation, venues will be expected to take some responsibility to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.
Known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ it will place a requirement on those responsible for certain venues to be prepared, ready to respond and know what to do in the event of an attack. Better protection will be delivered through enhanced security systems, staff training, and clearer processes. Continue reading
Post-Brexit, working abroad has become a minefield for some workers. A small fraction of the kind of questions people are asking include…
- do I need a visa?
- how long can I work in a particular country?
- what happens if I overstay?
- do I need to pay for levies, licences or customs waivers of any kind? (i.e., Carnets. Cabotage etc)
- if I am in a country, just sitting in a hotel room and sending emails, is that ‘work’?
- does working in an EU country affect my ability to go on holiday to the same country (or indeed, any country)?
- what happens if I incur costly delays or other unforeseen expenses while working abroad? (e.g., due to being refused entry into a country).
- what about healthcare costs and/or insurance? What happens if I am formally the employer of someone else who is also working abroad with me?
There are a few useful sources of information online, including…. Continue reading
The Broadcast Indie Survey 2023 is out [£] and I’ve given it a quick scan. Here are the highlights:
I you had to sum up the industry’s future outlook based on Broadcast Magazine’s 2023 Indie Survey in one sentence, it would be “Post-Covid positivity waning amid inflation-based nervousness.”
The state of the British economy is an issue, as well as the general price instability.
In terms of current performance, things aren’t so bad with production revenues heading back to pre-pandemic levels (though that may not be a surprise as last year’s survey was a bit more positive). In 2020, the reported turnovers totalled £3.4bn in the survey that was published just as the pandemic was getting underway.2023 figures are at £2.4bn – up 26% on 2022.
One major area of concern is a perceived squeeze in UK commissions (BBC, ITV, C4 etc). All are struggling with C4 coming in for criticism having had its eye forced off the ball by the (now abandoned) threat of privatisation. Many indies are reporting a requirement to find third-party funding from various screen initiatives, local authorities, and even tourist boards. Continue reading
Posted in BBC, Employment, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, High End TV data, Low budget productions, Post-production, Public Service Broadcasting, Skills & capacity, UK studios
Tagged Broadcast Magazine, Independent production sector
In 2022 Timewise and BECTU Vision came together to explore how flexible working could work on scripted productions, funded by Screen Scotland. You can read the report and findings by clicking here and download the PDF here.
The report highlighted that both crew and producers believe that addressing the length of the working day on productions would have the most impact on changing the industry, increasing retention, and minimising burnout. We are now developing a blueprint for how to create and deliver a shorter working hours production, supported by Screen Scotland and the Film and TV Charity, in collaboration with BBC Drama. Continue reading
The TUC have published a report on Long CoViD – here.
It covers issues like the financial impacts on workers, issues that they have with their employers, and how it is (and could be) addressed in employment situations.
Firstly, everything that was said in last week’s budget needs to be placed in some context. It seems that British economic analysts seem to have completely lost the ability to forecast inflation – a problem that may make a nonsense of a lot of last week’s plans..
February’s CPI is up to 10.4% and RPI is at 13.8% (up from 10.1% and 13.4% respectively). Recent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts said that these rates would peak in Q4 of 2022 and fall steadily throughout 2023 to end the year at 2.9% (CPI). Continue reading
Public sector finances are looking unexpectedly rosy following better-than-expected tax receipts. As the FT reports…
“Jeremy Hunt has received an unexpected £30bn windfall in the public finances ahead of his March Budget, giving the chancellor scope to provide extra support for energy bills, keep fuel taxes down and potentially solve public sector strikes.”
As Pound Sterling Live reports it… Continue reading
The BBC are reporting on a UK-wide six-month trial, testing the costs and benefits of a four-day week on full pay, across a wide range of different firms.
The trial was conducted between June and December 2022, organised by 4 Day Week Global, most of the companies involved were happy with productivity and performance outcomes. Of the 61 companies that took part, 56 said they would continue with the four-day week policy, at least for now – and 18 of those firms have already decided to permanently change to this way of working.
In many ways, productivity is the key economic problem facing the UK as we struggle in comparison to our main economic competitors and this experiment is intended to illustrate the important social dimension to solving this problem.
Following news coverage about poor audience behaviours, Bectu is doing some research on this issue with a survey. Bectu theatre reps are urged to download and share this leaflet to promote the survey.
Have an employer told you that you can’t discuss your pay with anyone? Or that you cannot show anyone your offer of work, or contact?
Many contracts in the entertainment industry contain clauses that aim to keep the information regarding the contract terms and wages strictly between the employer and the employee. However, The Equality Act 2010, in particular Section 77, protects the right that employees have to legally discuss their work pay with colleagues.
The key things this legislation states is that:
- Employers cannot legally discipline anyone for discussing their work pay; and
- Employers cannot legally have any clauses in employee contracts that stop workers from talking about pay
I occasionally get asked for updates on the general state of the UK film and TV sector, and I can usually reply offering a few links which general readers may find useful.
My first, and most current link would be to the BFI’s latest figures on Film and other screen sectors production in the UK: Full Year 2022 which show that there was a record £6.27 billion film and high-end television production spend in the UK, and that Top Gun: Maverick was the highest grossing film in the UK in 2022, with Belfast being the leading independent release.
These figures get updated quarterly with an annual summary so they are well worth staying on top of.
Readers will also find it useful to google around “new film studios in the UK” as the scale of development is quite eye-opening (here’s a good round at the time of writing).
There’s also the annual Pact Censuses – here’s their news page that links to the most recent one, but just googling “Pact Census [year]” I would also look at news stories that have reported on the census figures as they often pull out the most interesting issue – for example, here’s Deadline’s coverage of the 2022 figures. Continue reading
Posted in Culture policy, Economics, Factual & Entertainment sector data, Feature film data, Film & TV industry data, Film & TV industry policy, High End TV data, Low budget features, Quotas, Regulation, Skills & capacity, SVoD, Tax incentives, TV Advertising, UK studios
Tagged BFI Screen Business Report, Pact Census
For some years, I’ve been told that “freelancers can’t be safety reps”. I knew it was shorthand for a more detailed explanation, but I finally got around to finding out what it meant in practice.
I asked Chris Warburton, Prospect’s Health and Safety specialist officer, and he gave me the details, based on the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations which date back to 1977.
These regulations allow recognised trade unions to appoint health and safety reps, and the Employment Rights Act gives them protections when carrying out their functions. Regulation 3(1) of the SRSCR states: Continue reading
The Stage recently picked up on Bectu’s research around skills shortages in theatre [£], in which they quoted us saying that, unless long and unsocial working hours were addressed, the skills shortage in the industry would reach a “tipping point”.
They quoted Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs, saying…
“Our latest survey shows these issues continue to bite for the sector’s workers and are all the more concerning in the context of a cost-of-living crisis that shows no signs of waning soon.
“It’s particularly concerning that the industry seems to have missed the opportunity for a reset presented by the pandemic, with more than half of respondents reporting their work-life balance has worsened.”
Childs said that many theatre workers were “at breaking point” and “the industry cannot expect them to remain ‘for the love of the job’ when there is better pay and better-balanced working lives to be found elsewhere”.
She added: “For too long, it is workers who have suffered at the hands of a damaging ‘the show must go on’ mentality. The sector must urgently professionalise its approach to recruitment, skills development and retention if it is to remain fit for purpose for a modern society.”
In 2022 the ICO launched a consultation on the Employment Practices Code. This Code provides guidance on the use of data in various aspects of work including recruitment, employment records, monitoring, and information about workers’ health.
Since then, the ICO has begun to put out to consultation new drafts of each section of the Code of Practice. Here is the link to the current consultation on the health records section. Continue reading
There are two interesting tax developments for freelancers in the past few weeks. One – to Making Tax Digital – is very concrete and obvious, and the other – to IR35 – is a bit more subtle. Bectu members affected by them will probably welcome both.
Making Tax Digital
The first one is that the government has announced a two-year delay (back from April 2024 to April 2026) in the mandate for Self Employed Sole Traders to sign up for Making Tax Digital, and a slightly longer one again for those with lower levels of income (April 2027 for those with £30-50k in income). There will also be a review on when/if to mandate it for those with less than £30k in income.
Given the current rate of inflation, a version of fiscal drag may mean that some of those earning less than £30k now may be over that particular line by 2027! Of course, none of this stops those who actually want to get the compliant software and start using it – either for income tax or VAT.
The second development is one that may not be very visible, but it will be welcome all the same. Continue reading
The November inflation figures have just been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). CPI is now running at 10.7% with RPI also down slightly at 14%.
All the forecasts have been suggesting that it will level off at the end of the year, but almost every single projection that I’ve seen in the past couple of years has underestimated the rises to come and forecast falls when we ended up getting raises, so this comes as a welcome relief, however small.
As the Resolution Foundation puts it, this will be a relief for policy-makers but still very challenging – particularly for low-income households.
The previous inflation figures released on 16 November 2022 reported that Retail Price Index (RPI) rose by 14.2% in the 12 months to October 2022, and up from 12.6% in September. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 11.1% in the 12 months to October 2022, up from 10.1% in September.
As we have become used to saying now, these are the highest rates since the 1980-1 spike when rates hit a high of 21.8% (RPI).
As Joel Pearce has outlined in the Prospect Nov/Dec pay bulletin, the rises are… Continue reading
The TUC have forwarded the annual statistical report [pdf] from the The Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The standout figures that they (the TUC) have highlighted are…
- The rate of work-related illness is up overall, an all-time high – 1.8 million in 2021/22.
- Up by around 10% on last year. The figure is now almost 40 per cent higher than the 2010 figure
- 8 million working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries.
- Work-related stress at (another) all-time high, with over 900,000 cases in the last year
- Work-related injuries remain broadly flat-line; 123 fatalities are recorded.
The HSE use some of the report to claim that a lot of this is a consequence of CoViD (and, as you may expect, unions are generally more likely to point to poor/unenforceable employment legislation).
Either way, the TUC make the point that there is usually a whole page on ‘enforcement’ showing comparative graphs for HSE enforcement activity, but for some reason, it’s missing this time.
I’m sure that you’ve picked up some commentary about “The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill”, which was introduced to Parliament on 22 September 2022.
This is a key element of the UK Government’s post-Brexit agenda and affects a huge amount of the British statute book.
Our most immediate concerns, as a union, will always be around issues like working time, health and safety, and ‘equalities’ protections. Women workers in particular could find it a lot harder to bring equal pay cases, and some important parental rights protections be lost.
Workers in precarious and insecure work have the most to lose here as weak and unenforceable laws always hit those workers the hardest. The TUC has identified specific protections that workers have that may be at risk, including…. Continue reading
Posted in Employment Contracts, Employment intermediaries, Employment Law and Rights, Employment status, Equality, EU & Brexit, Freelancer rights, Gender equality, Gender pay, Gig economy workers, Health & Safety, Illness and disability, Long hours, Safe working practices, Safe working standards, Welfare and benefits
Tagged Agency Workers, Brexit, Data Protection, EU, Holiday pay, Redundancy, TUPE, Working time regulations
Bectu has been providing assistance to the HSE in the review of Etis 20 – the most recent version of this guidance was produced in 2017 and can be seen here [pdf].
There’s nothing to report on the developments yet, but readers may find the link to the new National Occupational Standards on Armoury that Skillset helped collate (published in May 2022) along with a few guidances that were published by Screenskills predecessor org Creative Skillset useful.
All of this is under increased focus following the tragic incident on the set of the film Rust in 2021 – more on this here.
This is a useful bookmark for anyone who has made a film and wants it distributed.
The Independent Cinema Office is a charity designed for people who are looking to establish small cinemas, or exhibit low-budget self-produced films,
The government has now responded to the results of their 2018 consultation on Employment Statuses. (The full response can be seen in this document – pdf). The Tl;dr version of it is (paraphrasing very liberally) “people who don’t like the status quo haven’t come up with a better proposal, and we’ve decided that changing this is too complicated and messy.”
The response can best be described as disappointing, though I suspect few were expecting any dramatic wholesale change. However, it is all the more disappointing given the fact that there was a pandemic that turned the volume up on many of the grievances that precariously-employed workers have.
To remind readers, for tax purposes, one can either be … Continue reading
Posted in CJRS & SEISS, Employment Law and Rights, Employment status, Freelance working, Freelancer rights, Gig economy workers, IR35, Tax
Tagged CIPD, Employee status, Employment status, Self-employment, Taylor Review, Worker status
I’ve had a request to write a briefing on UK parental rights for freelancers on my to-do list for a while, so I was very pleased to discover the website of Maternity Action which seems to answer most of the questions anyone could have on the subject.
That’s all. That’s the post.
I had planned to post this a few weeks ago, but then Kwasi Kwarteng’s Growth Plan scuppered all of that with its oddly-framed decision to “scrap IR35”.
However, we can carry on as usual now that Jeremy Hunt has reversed that decision.
So, where is IR35 going? Well, we have seen HMRC getting criticism from a number of quarters, including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which claimed that there are “structural problems” that need addressing in terms of how the tax avoidance rules work in the public sector (the DWP, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have all been stung for multi-£m tax bills since the 2017 introduction of IR35 reforms in the public sector.
Earlier this year, the Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee of House of Lords published what looks like a reasonable set of conclusions. The full letter can be seen here [pdf], but in summary, they are calling for the following: Continue reading
Update: I’m not deleting this post because I think deleting posts is usually a mistake. But I will say that most of what it contained on the 14th October 2022 was irrelevant three days later as the BBC’s Faisal Islam explained here:
Today’s U-turn on Corporation Tax will be of a good deal of interest to Bectu members who trade through their own Personal Service Company (PSC).
It is currently levied at a rate of 19%. It used to be a lot higher – it was 28% when Conservatives came to power in 2010, but it was cut steadily by a point or two in the years between 2010 and April 2017 when it settled at 19%.
In March of this year, the former chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the rate would rise from 19% back up to 25% in April 2023. However, this increase was temporarily cancelled by incoming PM Liz Truss’s temporary Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng.
Today we hear that the increase will go ahead as Mr Sunak had originally planned in 2023 and that Mr Kwarteng has been replaced by Jeremy Hunt.
Any such interest will give those who are sceptical about the value of trading through a PSC another budget to get rid of it. A few more people will undoubtedly fall into the group of PSC traders who are paying as much in taxes as they would as Self-Employed Sole Traders.