It looks like Equity has attracted The Stage’s attention. The stage is reporting that Equity has warned a show that it may be breaking the law using 200 performers and paying no one.
Martin Brown, Equity’s assistant general secretary for communications and membership support, commented: “We have already contacted the production to warn them that what they are doing may be in breach of the National Minimum Wage regulations. If any member of Equity is involved in this production and believes that they should have received at least the National Minimum Wage, I would encourage them to come to Equity and we will get a legal opinion.”
Speaking to The Stage, Kate Bond, one of the show’s creators, explained: “If there was enough funding for the shows, then we would pay everybody but there’s only enough funding to cover the production costs, such as hiring a venue, getting public liability insurance, paying for the props – but pretty much everything is as free as it can be to make the grant stretch far enough. “But, because there are 200 performers, we cannot even pay travel expenses, which is definitely unfair on paper.”
So it looks like the show’s creators may have a massive wage bill, and simply do not realise their responsibility to pay workers. Responsible theatre managers who pay actors at or above NMW are beginning to grumble about producers breaking the law and not paying actors. The reason is echoed by the FSB, The UK’s biggest business organisation, with over 200,000 members. The FSB said that law-abiding employers are facing unlawful wage competition from rogue employers, and backed a carefully targeted campaign from HMRC to end illegal pay deals.