Bectu’s production division launches member-led welfare policy to improve worker mental health

22 February 2022

Bectu has launched a welfare policy to support the mental health of people working in film and TV.

Initiated by Bectu members working in film and TV production, the document provides a model mental health, stress and wellbeing policy for companies working in the film and TV sector. The policy has been subject to industry consultation and is a great example of what can be achieved when the sector comes together and works towards a shared agenda.

The new policy is a result of members’ desire for clear guidance addressing stress and mental health risks faced by workers in the industry. The New Deal for Freelancers group, formed by Bectu representatives at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, reviewed working practices and conditions in the wider industry and identified greater support for welfare and general wellbeing in the film and TV sector as a key issue.

Research and consultation with industry stakeholders for the policy’s development unearthed a lack of existing welfare or mental health policies targeted at the industry. The new policy seeks to provide guidance that will:

  • Be referenced by senior crews and workers who want to better support their teams
  • Ensure productions are meeting their legal obligations to workers, including on stress risk assessment
  • Support a healthier industry that will retain talent and allowing those with disabilities better access to the industry and supporting the spectrum of mental health.

The resulting document is a flexible policy that proactive productions can adapt and use on their productions. The policy was formed following extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, including production companies, the Film and TV Charity, industry mental health company Solas Mind, non-profit 6 ft From The Spotlight and working members of the union.

The Film and TV Charity’s 2021 ‘Looking Glass’ report revealed a mental health crisis within the creative industries. Poor working conditions, long hours and a lack of wellbeing support at work has led to workers feeling burnt out and let down by the industry, with 78% of respondents reporting that work intensity has negatively affected their mental health. Bectu’s welfare policy offers guidance to ensure that the problems identified by the report are dealt with and that the general mental health of workers is properly protected.

The document aims to not only outline the legal obligations that employers have in ensuring mental wellbeing and reasonable adjustments at work, but also outlines a best practice framework for implementing preventative and protective measures. It will also guide employers on how to best respond during productions where workers’ mental health and or stress levels are unduly affected.

The document will be kept under review, with the aim of continually improving the guidance and ensuring it is easy to implement.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Bectu has long campaigned for workers’ mental health to become a key priority for government and employers. I am proud of our reps and members who initiated the development of this important policy, and the industry stakeholders who we worked closely with to ensure that mental wellbeing is promoted across the creative industries.

“Bectu’s welfare policy is a great example of what can be achieved through industry collaboration, and together with other initiatives will help to tackle the structural industry issues that contribute to the mental health crisis. We hope that our work will help companies in the film and TV sector better support our members, retain talent and ensure a happier and healthier industry.

“Guidance on worker wellbeing is more important than ever in the context of the pandemic we’ve all been living through. The multiple shutdowns of the creative industries allowed workers the time to assess how poor working practices negatively affect their day to day lives. We hope this policy will spark a wider conversation about investment in the wellbeing of the UK’s talented film and TV crews.”

You can download the policy here.

An editable template for companies to use and adapt is available here.

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Mental Health Awareness Week

9-15 May 2022