CORONAVIRUS SITUATION: BECTU UPDATE 24/03/20

We’re very aware that members will have lost significant amounts of work over the last week or so due to the Coronavirus situation, and want to know what the union is doing on their behalf. We’re sharing this update from Paul Evans, the BECTU official who looks after the London Production Division, of which Camera Branch is the biggest branch:

“We’re lobbying on a number of fronts:

1) To make sure that people who aren’t on PAYE can access the same package that people who are on PAYE are able to get (so this means calling for people to be able to treat what they have drawn down either as salary or dividends from their Personal Service Company as an indication of the income that they have received.

2) To also put the question of kit-hire on the agenda – the argument that people who are freelancers are not only losing *income* – they’re also losing revenue of capital items that they would expect to resell to employers (i.e. kit, vehicles, software, insurances as well as other standing expenditure that they can’t just suspend during this crisis.

3) The ‘(re)entry level’ problem – for plenty of reasons, members may not have earned money last year (they are entering the industry / were taking career breaks as a result of childcare or illness etc

Every day, the focus of our campaigning is changing, but we have a professional team that includes a Parliamentary Officer with good connections among MPs of all parties, a press team and a good research team. We’re also providing regular update via the website and twitter – you may have seen today’s news story?”

In addition branch reps are pushing hard to make sure BECTU also demands help for those members who organise their work lives as freelancers but are taxed as PAYE employees. Lots of PAYE crew had quiet winters & weren’t working on 1st March, and  had good expectations of work starting soon which has now gone away. Some of these crew members will be amongst the lowest-paid grades. We don’t think it’s fair that they should miss out on any help the self-employed might get, and they must not be allowed to fall through the cracks.

Our Coronavirus Advice page is regularly updated and we’re also putting out news though the branch Twitter & Instagram pages – if you use those platforms please help by re-tweeting & sharing to your Stories.

We’re also urging you to write to your MP asking for a better deal for freelancers – use this link, it’s super-easy & takes 3 minutes: https://bectu.org.uk/self-employed-workers-need-protection-too-email-your-mp-now/

Thanks for reading – stay safe & keep in touch. Your committee & officials are here to help.

Coronavirus

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CALL TO ACTION:

  1. Write to your MP: bit.ly/bectu-write-to-mp (and if they respond please forward the reply to communications@bectu.org.uk  )

  2. Sign the IPSE & Creative Federation Industries petition: bit.ly/coronavirus-freelancers

  3. Check the BECTU website: bectu.org.uk

Info on BECTU’s website:

There’s also a Camera Branch update about what BECTU is doing here.

Links from elsewhere:

COVID-19 advice for freelancers working in film and TV

The TV, Film and Commercials industry relies on the goodwill of freelancers and now is a good time to ask for some flexibility from employers wherever possible.

Hiatus

If your production is put on a hiatus:
  • Many productions have been paying half pay or full pay for a specific set period of time. This is at productions’ discretion but it is always worth asking your engagers if they will support you financially for as long as possible.
  • Check your contract to see what the hiatus clause entails and what your potential entitlement is.
  • Keep an open and positive dialogue/communication line going with your heads of department (HODs) and producing teams. The production might start up again soon and working relationships resumed.
  • Keep safe and practice government guidelines while you’re away from work. These can be seen in the Helpful Resources links below.

Cancellation

If your production is cancelled:
  • If you are working under the Bectu/Pact Major Motion Picture Agreement,BECTU/Pact TV Drama Agreementor Bectu Construction Agreements and are engaged on weekly contracts, you will be entitled to one week’s notice period. You will be paid in full for that 1 week even if you don’t work during that week.
  • If you are working on a commercial under the APA agreement you can see what your cancellation rights are in section 7 of the agreement which you can find here: https://bit.ly/2vvH7il
  • If you are on any other fixed-term contract, you have the statutory right to a minimum notice period of:
  • 1 week if you’ve worked continuously for at least 1 month
  • 1 week for each year you’ve worked, if you’ve worked continuously for 2 years or more
  • These are the minimum periods. The contract may specify a longer notice period, so first read what your own contract says. Bectu advises members to request a longer notice payment wherever possible.
  • If an employer ends a contract without giving the proper notice, you may be able to claim breach of contract.
  • If you have a daily contract, unfortunately there are no current laws protecting you.
  • Every contract is different so it’s essential you read yours carefully to determine what compensation is available to you.
  • If you haven’t got a contract at all, or if you’ve been engaged via an agency, unfortunately you may only be paid for days worked (unless a cancellation fee was put forward and accepted by the engager before accepting the work). Please note that it is the industry norm for most crew (apart from ‘Dailies’) to be paid at least one week’s notice and we urge members who don’t have a contract to request this as a minimum.

Up and coming pencilled or confirmed work

If you have work that is due to start soon…
  • Do not accept work without agreed cancellation fees with the engager.
  • Bectu recommends the following cancellation fees in line with the organisation London Freelance:
    • 1-7 days’ notice 100%
    • 8-14 days’ notice 75%
    • 15-21 days’ notice 50%
    • 22-28 days’ notice 25%

What is Bectu doing to help?

  • Representing members to the government and the industry. Working closely with industry stakeholders on:
    • – BFI Screen Sector Task-Force (Covid-19)
    • British Film Councils Advisory Panel (deals with the economics of inward investment)
    • Greater London Authority Round Table: Supporting Freelancers During Coronavirus.
  • Lobbying the Treasury to have adequate financial support in place for people who have lost income while working as freelancers or on other precarious work contracts (inc Zero Hours).
  • Lobbying the Treasury to provide support for renters.
  • Lobbying the Treasury to provide sickness/absence from work payments to freelancers as well as employees.
  • Requesting deferment of the 31 July tax deadline, along with lobbying for tax rebates, and retrospective tax rebates for workers who have paid heavy tax bills in recent months. (Note the government has delayed IR35 changes for a year – see http://bit.ly/IR35-delay)
  • Encouraging productions to recognise the unique vulnerability of workers on ‘Daily’ contracts and to provide the enhanced cancellation terms that are currently offered under Bectu’s Construction Agreement.
  • Gathering info on what productions are doing to support their crews. Any information is valuable to us so please get in touch with Bectu if you know anything.
  • Supporting and advising our members on an individual and crew basis.

This crisis has shown just how much the entertainment industries rely upon the goodwill of people who work on very precarious contracts of employment, whether they are freelancers, zero hour contract workers, or employees of companies that are, themselves, commercially vulnerable.

Bectu is also working to develop a long-term response – a New Deal for Freelance and Precarious Workers – to ensure that, in future, the working relationship is less one-sided than it has been shown to be in recent weeks.

This section was updated at 17.00 on Friday 20 March

Helpful resources

Bectu officials will be available to speak with you throughout this difficult period, so if you have any questions get in touch – phone 020 7346 0900 or email covid19@bectu.org.uk.

Meeting & Social, Old Street.

Our next Meeting and Social is in Old Street on the 15th of February. It’s a new member special, but there will be information of interest to all.

We’ll put out a buffet at 1pm and members get a free drink also. Non-members can attend. There will be a discount for those joining on the day.

The venue is The Angel Pub, which is located at 73 City Road, EC1Y 1BD (Old Street tube).

You can download an agenda in advance, though printed copies will be available.

See you there!

IR35 MEETINGS

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BECTU has just announced another round of meetings about the IR35 tax changes that will come into effect in April.

These meetings are strictly members-only, but it’s possible to join on the door.

There’s a note on BECTU’s position on IR35 here and for members only, the Tax For Freelancers guide is here (log-in required).

  • 17th Feb – The Goat Pub near Shepperton Studios: 6-8pm
    47 Upper Halliford Road, Shepperton TW17 8RX
    Parking available outside the pub – members will need to register their car on a tablet inside the pub for free parking
  • 19th Feb – 01 Zero One Soho: 7-9pm
    Hopkins Street, London W1F 0HS
    Limited parking in general Soho area. Advisable to take public transport if possible.
  • 9th March – Pinewood Studios in the Large Boardroom: 7-9pm
    Pinewood Road, Iver Heath SL0 0NH
    Parking available on site & photo I.D needed
  • 11th March – The Goat Pub near Shepperton Studios: 7-9pm
    47 Upper Halliford Road, Shepperton TW17 8RX
    Parking available outside the pub – members will need to register their car on a tablet inside the pub for free parking
  • 17th March – Leavesden Studios in the Screening Theatre: 6-8pm
    Warner Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LP
    Parking available on site & photo I.D needed
  • 19th March – Leavesden Studios in the Screening Theatre: 7-9pm
    Warner Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LP
    Parking available on site & photo I.D needed

General info:

– These meetings are strictly open to members only. If anyone wishes to join the union and attend, they can join by filling in an application form on the door, or call BECTU in advance of the meeting and bring proof of membership with them.
– 6pm-8pm slots are to accommodate construction crew working hours as much as possible.
– 7pm-9pm slots are to accommodate shooting crew hours as much as possible.
– To access Pinewood and Leavesden Studios you will need to have photo I.D and register at reception – allow some extra time for this.
– There is no pre-registration for these meetings – you just need to turn up and join us.
– Workers who live in the regions are welcome to join if you happen to be working in London at the time of the meetings.
– No further regional meetings have been scheduled at the time of writing.

Camera Branch Diversity networking event at the BSCexpo

The BSC Expo takes place on the 31st of January & 1st of February in Battersea Park. The Camera Branch diversity representative has set up an event to improve the poor representation in the camera department. We hope a networking event will bring talented women and ethnic minority camera professionals to the attention of those with hiring power in the industry.

The initiative is in partnership with Primetime, a visibility platform aiming to address the gender imbalance in the film and television industry, with thanks to Digital Orchard for hosting the event in their New Talent Bar at the BSC Expo. It is also supported by Imago, Illuminatrix, the British Blacklist and Women Behind the Camera.

Camera branch’s new equality and diversity officer Catherine Goldschmidt commented: “We recognise that, like much of film and television production, there is substantial under-representation of BAME and female talent in the camera department. Because so many breaks are down to who you know, we wanted to introduce women and minority ethnic people working in camera and related grades to those who hire crew members.”

BECTU diversity officer Janice Turner added: “We are delighted at the positive and enthusiastic response from top cinematographers and the British Society of CInematographers to our initiative – we hope the contacts made at the meetings during BSC Expo result in useful information and more opportunities for women and BAME technicians in camera.”

Tim Bertani, secretary of BECTU’s camera branch, said: “This initiative is a great opportunity for talented professionals to widen their networks”.

To apply, you need to download the flyer, select who you’d like to meet and send your C.V. with contact details to the organisers by the 27th of January. Registration for the BSCexpo is free.

Consultation on National Occupational Standards

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Dear Camera Department,

Industry training body, ScreenSkills has been developing some National Occupational Standards (NOS) for screen industries.

It has recently come to our attention that an online consultation seeking comment on draft standards went live in mid December. We were unaware of this until now and the deadline is right around the corner: 9am, 27th January 2020.

We ask all camera personnel in all sectors to kindly contribute your expertise to the survey.

You may think that none of this affects you, as there is currently no training standard or recognized qualification, but this is the first step in creating one. A qualification can work to better our industry – but that will take time, and will need to be of a high standard. These standards will potentially cover all production sectors and all roles in the Camera Department and also include Grips & Lighting.

This branch created new Camera Assistant qualifications for a proposed update to the Diploma scheme that was run in the past. Unfortunately, the academy that was expected to accredit this scheme is moving very slowly (and are now possibly waiting to see the NOS standards). Revisions to the Diploma qualifications is complete and we believe them to be of high quality (level 2 & level 3). For reference, the branch suggests reading them prior to commenting on ScreenSkills’ proposals, though the the NOS standards are much wider than just camera assisting.

Branch Guidance:

When you access ScreenSkills’ introduction page it will give you two options –

  • Camera Standards
  • Lighting for Film and TV Standards

Choose the one relevant to you but be aware there is some overlap with grip and lighting departments.

You will need to enter –
Your title: Trainee, Loader, Focus, Operator, Camera Technician, Wrangler etc.
Company: We would suggest writing Freelance or Self Employed.
Located in: We would suggest TICKING EVERY BOX as we move around locations a lot.

Your name and email address is optional, but if you want to receive follow up info we suggest including your details here.

You will next be confronted with A LOT of information, so let us try to assist with what you are seeing first.

The pages cover a very wide array of camera knowledge. They cross over into lighting and grip departments and of course not all of us work in the same sector of the wider Film & Television industry. The advice given by Screenskills is as follows –

“We appreciate that there are several Standards for this area, but please just comment on the parts that are of interest to you.”

The branch advises is that you take the time to go through the survey thoroughly and you will find each section has options to click at the top of the page:

  • This document is not relevant to me
  • I’m happy with this document
  • I would like to leave an overall comment

The advice of the branch is to click either “I’m happy with this document” or “I would like to leave an overall comment”. Our reasoning is that the standards are either fine as they are, or should be added to (rather than in any way NOT relevant, which may result in removal from future documents and affect crew in other sectors). More education is better than less!

We believe that the proposed NOS standards are broadly in line with our own proposed standards, but we need you to examine what is there and consider if there is anything missing. Think about how you do your work, the steps and skills involved. Is everything captured in the draft standard? If you think of something, add it in the comments box.

We hope this is clear and we greatly appreciate you taking the time to go through the survey: Help us improve the National Occupational Standards for screen industry roles – ScreenSkills

Regards

The Camera Branch

Camera Branch Meeting & Social, Saturday, 16th November

The Camera Branch General Meeting and Social is on Saturday the 16th of November from 2pm. It’s in The Apollo Room, The Crown Tavern, 43 Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, London, Greater London, EC1R 0EG. The nearest tube is Farringdon which is about 5mins away (map here).

As usual, members get their first drink free (bring your member number or register) and there will be a buffet supplied to kick off the social part of the meeting.

We’ll be starting with some presentations on getting the most out of the union: how it is organised, deals for members and most importantly, how to get things done.

Then we will have updates on branch projects like the low budget initiative, a survey of camera people in the factual sector and a proposal for helping you improve your rates.

After industry updates, there will be time for general chat, socialising & networking.

If you could use this eventbrite link to register, that will help us estimate the numbers and provide accordingly, but it is not required. We can confirm that we will be running a reduced sign up fee on the day for any non-members who would like to join: £7.50 per month for the first year.