At the start of the return-to-work in the late summer of 2020 we started seeing a lot of ‘covid waiver’ clauses in contracts. These were often called things like ‘acknowledgment of risk’. They sought to absolve the production of liabilities related to Covid.
Bearing in mind the general disclaimer that relates to everything on this site (see the footnote to this post) I have a few observations.
I’ve not seen any of these for a while now and generally I think they’re a bit daft (they may be there because US companies want the same things in their UK contracts as those in their US ones?) These waivers generally seek to ask employees to absolve employers of responsibility for all injuries.
We emailed Bectu members during the late summer urging them to challenge any contractual clauses that ask them to absolve employers of responsibility for gross negligence.
Such disclaimers are generally, legally, pointless anyway. Taking the example of liability for people who are infected with Covid19, this would only be possible if someone can establish they caught Coronavirus on a particular production (which would be hard to show in most cases) and that the production company is negligent.
If this could be shown, any disclaimer is ineffective because you generally cannot successfully exclude liability where negligence has resulted in injury or death.
So we urge everyone to strike such clauses out of contracts. The union has consulted senior employers in the film and TV industry and they agree that the inclusion of such clauses is generally both futile and irresponsible in an industry where people need clarity and reassurance.
More generally, we have a range of bits of covid-related info that can be seen here that I hope is useful.
Important footnote: The information that this blog provides is only a general outline of the subjects covered. It should neither be regarded as comprehensive nor sufficient for making decisions, and it should not be used in place of professional advice.