A second email from Bob Shennan at the BBC

Supporting freelance and fixed term colleagues through this challenging period
This message is being sent to all freelancers with a current or recent BBC contract

Hi everyone,

I want to start by thanking you all for supporting each other and helping us to provide vital services during this challenging time. Earlier in the week, we, along with other PSBs, contacted the UK Chancellor to ask the Government to support our critically important freelance community. I wrote to you last week and wanted to follow up on the support we plan to provide for our vital fixed term and freelance workforce. 

Supporting freelance and fixed term colleagues
We hire temporary employees on fixed term contracts as well as engaging on and off-air freelancers. Some freelancers are paid through our payroll and are often referred to as ‘PAYE freelancers’ or ‘casual workers’. We also engage self-employed freelancers who are paid on a gross basis. The majority of our freelancers and fixed term colleagues are fully occupied supporting our continuing output and their jobs are not at risk as a result of COVID-19. However, unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, we have had to postpone or cancel some productions. We know that is creating insecurity and anxiety and our first priority is to try and redeploy our people where we can, recognising that is not always possible.

What support will be available?
We have listened to the concerns of our freelance and fixed term colleagues, as has the UK Government. Following on from the support announced by the Government, we are also putting in place a series of measures that provide support to our fixed term workers as well as our freelance workforce, both PAYE and Self-Employed.The measures we are offering will provide:·         

Income protection against any loss of work due to Covid-19 – this wouldn’t apply to contracts that end for other reasons.·         

Sick pay cover.·         Wellbeing support.

What it means for each group
As we engage people differently, these measures will apply in different ways depending on the types of engagement. We have outlined below how they will apply to fixed-term colleagues, PAYE and Self-Employed freelancers.The Government has provided two schemes, one for PAYE workers and one for the self-employed to ensure that people in each of these groups can access up to 80% of their earnings up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. The schemes are similar but are accessed in different ways. As the schemes were only announced yesterday, we are seeking clarity on some of the details.

If you are on a fixed term contract and joined the BBC before 28th February§  With funding support from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the BBC plans to pay either 100% of your pay or £3,000 per month for the remaining period of your contract up to a maximum of 3 months – whatever is the lesser amount. This will be effective from the 1st March 2020.§  You are also eligible for full BBC sick pay and have access to our wellbeing support services (counselling and remote GP service) under your current contract.

If you are a PAYE freelancer and joined the BBC before 28th February§  With funding support from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the BBC plans to pay either 100% of your pay or £3,000 per month for the remaining period of your contract up to a maximum of 3 months – whatever is the lesser amount. This will be effective from the 1st March 2020.§  You are entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay if you are ill and we will top this up to 2 weeks full pay if you are sick while engaged to work for us.§  By the end of next week we will also provide additional support with access to our Employee Assistance Programme which offers a range of support including telephone advice, counselling sessions and access to our remote GP services.

If you are a self-employed freelancer (paid Gross pay without deductions for tax and NI)§  Yesterday, the Chancellor announced an income support scheme for the self-employed. If you are eligible you will receive a cash grant worth 80% of your average monthly trading profit over the last three years for the three month period from 1st March. This will be paid to you on application through HMRC. §  We are expecting details of how this scheme will operate in the next few days. We will publish this for you as soon as we have it and we are exploring the ways that we will be able to supplement this scheme. 

Covid-19 Support FundWe understand that the Government support may not be available until June for self-employed freelancers, and know that may leave some people without an income in the meantime. To help, we have also set up a central fund for freelancers who are adversely impacted by Covid-19. The fund is available to support self- employed freelancers who have, or would have had, booked engagements with the BBC Group between March and June. Payments made from the fund would be offset against future work and we’ll share further details of how to access the fund next week.Next stepsWe hope the proposals we have set out will help support you at this difficult time. They are complex and the mechanism for accessing payments is in the process of being developed. We are also waiting for more guidance from the Government about how their income support schemes will operate.  Because of that, we do not have all the answers right now to the many questions that you will have. I hope you will bear with us as we understand more and develop our proposals in detail. We will continue working on this detail and get back to you as soon as possible. If you have a question about the Government’s support schemes, you can access more information here.We are developing additional supporting materials and frequently asked questions.  In the meantime, you can share your queries about the support the BBC is providing, here.  

Thank you

Thank you for everything you are doing to support our audiences and each other at this difficult time. We are here to support all of you.

Bob

Bob Shennan
Managing Director

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