Here is what the Low Pay Commission reported on the entertainment Sector in this year’s report (2010)
4.47 Equity highlighted the problem of work being offered for no pay, giving aspiring performers an opportunity to work in the industry. Our Secretariat also met two actors who raised the issue of the complex nature of the law in relation to the entertainment industry and of roles in TV and film being advertised as unpaid when they were clearly work. They wanted it to be made illegal to advertise work for no pay. The actors, along with Equity, had passed details of adverts offering work for no pay to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and felt that some sort of sector specific guidance for employers and agencies in the entertainment industry would be beneficial.
‘Many workers in the entertainment sector with minimum wage problems are scared to enforce their rights. They fear retribution from their employers.’
4.48 During a visit to London we met a group of actors who told us of the problems those in the entertainment sector faced. These included: agencies taking their fees from a day’s pay, leaving the worker with less than the minimum wage, and offering no subsequent work to the actor; work being advertised for no pay (but sometimes with expenses); and the complex nature of the regulations in this sector. They told us that those in the industry were reluctant to report abuse for fear that they would subsequently find it difficult to obtain work.
4.49 In November 2009, an Employment Tribunal ruled that workers engaged on an expenses-only basis were entitled to payment at least in line with the National Minimum Wage. The case was brought by a department assistant against a film company and was supported by the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU).
4.50 We have again heard this year about a number of problems faced by those working in the entertainment industry. We understand that the issues are not always as straightforward as they may appear and that two enforcement bodies, HMRC and the Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate, have an involvement in this sector. While more may need to be done in relation to enforcement of existing regulations, we believe the production and publication of guidance specifically for the entertainment industry would go some way to highlighting the rights and obligations of employers, agencies and workers in the sector. We therefore recommend that the Government produces, in conjunction with interested parties, sector specific guidance on the National Minimum Wage for the entertainment sector. We will monitor the situation with regard to this group of workers carefully and, following publication of the sector specific guidance, review the effect of its publication.
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