Bectu warns against coronavirus affecting entertainment freelancers’ livelihood

3 March 2020

Demands for self-isolation because of the spread of coronavirus is highlighting the already precarious working conditions faced by entertainment freelancers

The growing demands for ‘self-isolation’ being placed upon workers, relating to the spread of coronavirus, is highlighting the already-precarious working conditions faced by freelancers in the entertainment industry, Bectu has warned.

Freelancers have been calling the union for creative ambition to find out about whether they are still entitled to payment even if their work is cancelled.

Members have reported losing work because of precautions  being taken at the Vinters Business Park where a tenant unrelated to a TV production has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Bectu is advising members to follow guidance from the NHS on hygiene, minimising transmission and avoiding crowded public spaces.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Freelancers should not be missing out on pay because of the coronavirus.

“This could hit Bectu’s freelance members particularly hard. Unlike employees who receive contractual, or Statutory Sick Pay, many of these workers will lose thousands of pounds.

We would urge engagers to accept responsibility for continued payment to keep potential infectors at home for 14 days.

The freelance nature of working in the entertainment industries means that there is a huge amount of flexibility for employers. However, that flexibility can mean precarious work for many people and that should not be exacerbated because of a situation that is completely out of their control.”

Bectu, a sector of Prospect, will be contacting the government to ask it to:

– lobby insurance companies to cover freelancers for self-isolation
– establish a system to cover any lost earnings due to self-isolation that are not covered by insurance or by employers, perhaps through the benefits system
– guarantee that businesses who cannot afford to cover this kind of absence will be supported

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We have published comprehensive advice for members worried about, or caught up in, the crisis.