Only 1 in 6 runners get paid work through subscription services

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The administrators of the Facebook group “People looking for TV work: Runners” recently mounted a survey of its members to find out how many were paying for access to industry jobs through subscription sites.

267 people responded to the survey – the first of its kind – with around half having tried a paid for jobs site. The overwhelming majority felt that they offer poor value for money and only one in six paying subscribers to job sites had achieved paid work through their membership. Of the people who had been successful, many had secured only small amounts of work, mostly amounting to less than a week.

Six sites featured in the results:

  1. My First Job in Film and My First Job in TV

More people have signed up to these two sites than any other (60% of all respondents who had joined a paid service) but for most people their experience has been almost entirely negative. Less than 1 in 10 subscribers had achieved any paid work at all, and the work they did find was mostly for only a few days.

Respondents overwhelmingly felt that that the two sites were poor value for money and only 5% of people who had paid would recommend joining the site to others.

  • “My first job in film is ridiculously expensive and I have never had any response from any job applications on there. Apparently these posts are somewhere else and not exclusive as they always claim”.
  • “Makes you doubt your job application skills when you don’t hear anything back after 20+ applications, but when you read that so many other people have had a similar experience, questions are raised of the website”.
  • “My first job in film – only ever got in contact with me when I wanted to cancel my subscription. Very disappointing service”
  • “Lots of apparent jobs advertised, but in all the ones I’ve put my applications in for (a fair few!), I’ve only ever heard back from one”
  • “This service often takes jobs that are advertised for free elsewhere and claim they are exclusive to them, and require a paid subscription to apply. Very cheeky.”
  • “They take advantage of young people who are desperate to get into the industry, especially film, and don’t know where to start looking for work. Every job is swamped with applicants, too many for a busy person to go through properly, so chances are your application isn’t going to be seen”
  • “Scam”

http://www.myfirstjobinfilm.co.uk/ and http://www.myfirstjobintv.co.uk/


2. Shooting People

Of the 15 people who had paid to join Shooting People, only 1 had achieved any paid work through them. Many respondents did find value in their membership, over and above the access to paid or unpaid work:

  • “I was with Shooting People for a year and got one paid but well below NMW feature however from the contacts made i have had most of my future employment”
  • “I haven’t had any paid work from Shooting People but I found it very useful compared to other sites. Its good for freelancers who want to also do their own creative projects outside of freelancing, and gives you a chance to step up as a HOD”
  • “I haven’t seen any established companies advertising on Shooting People for unpaid work; only students, pet projects etc”
  • “The only website I would give positive feedback to is Shooting People, as it has a lot of resources and a strong platform for forums”
  • “(I would recommend) Shooting People. Great for those first, unpaid jobs (or low paid if you’re lucky!) where you can learn set etiquette and how the roles on a film set interact”

https://shootingpeople.org/


  1. Film & TV Pro

There were 32 subscribers to Film & TV Pro, of whom 6 had picked up paid work. They were only recommended by 3 people.

  • “Film and TV Pro (are poor value for money). I found the same job postings on free websites”.

http://www.filmandtvpro.com/


  1. ProductionBase

Of the 12 subscribers to ProductionBase, 5 had found paid work. Some felt that it was not a good site for Runners however, and one had been a member for three years but had not secured a single job.

  • “They now offer very few relevant job adverts”
  • “I don’t get the sense ProductionBase is good for Runners. I follow them on Twitter but haven’t seen any relevant jobs”
  • “ProductionBase had a new commissions section which was useful/interesting”
  • “ProductionBase is extremely expensive for £15 a month”
  • “ProductionBase did have excellent levels of service and a member of their staff did call me and help me with setting up my profile. However I still did not receive a single interview/second contact – I probably applied for 50+ positions”

http://www.productionbase.co.uk/


5. The Calltime Company

The Calltime Company came out of the survey as by far the most valued site. It was overwhelmingly popular with no negative feedback and many favourable comments. Of the 12 people who had subscribed, 11 had got paid work through the site and almost all of them would recommend it to others. The company only accepts a limited number of members on its books at any one time, and only by interview.

  • “The people that run it are brilliant, although I have only had some work, their post graduate pay as you go scheme is a great idea and more than fair”
  • “A new entrant would be unlikely to get into the call time company, but they do offer graduate placements now and then which is good”
  • “They get you work and don’t make false promises if they do put you on their books”
  • “They actually get you jobs”
  • “Unique to any other services and most certainly aren’t just after your money. They actively find you work when in need. You don’t therefore pay for nothing”
  • “Run by people who know the industry and are known by the industry. Friendly, helpful and cater to you as an individual”
  • “I’d describe Vicki and Tam as mentors rather than a recruitment company – they have always been on the end of a phone or email when I need advice and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them”

http://calltimecompany.com/


Many of the respondents to the survey also left general feedback about paid sites and life as a new starter in the industry.

  • “I don’t understand how come such a small industry as Film and TV in the UK have so many paid job-sites. We want to have access to all the jobs ads but we cant possibly pay to ever site. So I wonder how many am I missing for not having the budget to subscribe. It seems pretty unfair to me, we have to pay to have access to jobs ads that might not even turn into a job”.
  • “Finding a job is super difficult”
  • “Finding work in media industries is hard enough without websites like these giving hope to new starters, taking their money and leaving them out of pocket, confused and disheartened”
  • “It is really difficult to find entry level jobs, especially if you don’t live in London”
  • “No one should pay to find work. It’s an abhorrent and unscrupulous practice”
  • “I understand why people set these sites up but no other industry tries to make people pay to access job adverts and its especially difficult for people who are starting out that possibly can’t afford to pay to access information that a simple add to a facebook group would give them”
  • “Trying to make money out of people’s ambitions by promising exclusive access to job adverts is poor practice”
  • “It makes me angry as not everyone would be able to pay but everyone should have a chance at working in the industry they want”

Send private feedback to derrywatson@gmail.com

 

Unpaid work experience – your questions answered

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 So what’s the big issue?
The issue is that many Film and TV companies are breaking the law with regard to not paying young people the National Minimum Wage where it is due. They will take on someone as a “runner” or “work experience” (using the claim that it is “good for your CV” or “good experience”) and then not pay them. This is illegal. Every worker (with a few minor exceptions) is entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for every hour they work. The current minimum wage rates are here. (This is for short engagements, holiday pay will be paid at the end of a long contract unless you have taken holiday).

If it’s illegal, why do these companies do it?
Some do it because they don’t know the rules (and every employer with a duty of care should) and some do it because they think they can get away with it. The 2005 TVWRAP campaign highlighted the issue of illegal unpaid work in the TV industry which encouraged a lot of companies now to abide by the law of the land. The better companies (like Granada, RDF and Endemol) do not take on young people to do unpaid work, however there are still some companies who risk the wrath of the Inland Revenue by using young people as workers and not paying them.


But what about “work experience” or an “internship” – surely that doesn’t need to be paid?
If it is just “shadowing” or the work experience is part of a course, for a full time student only, organised by the relevant academic institution and is a required part of that course (i.e the student has to do the work experience to pass) then people on work experience or internships need not be paid the NMW. The National Council for Work Experience say this:

“Government legislation in respect of the National Minimum Wage means that UK employers can no longer offer unpaid work experience, unless they are doing it as part of their course”

http://www.work-experience.org/ncwe.rd/ … rs_149.jsp

The problem is that most companies use the phrase “work experience” to cover a multitude of sins. Proper work experience involves training and assessment, agreed goals and a plan – it is primarily of benefit to the young person involved. “Work experience” which involves someone coming in to an organisation and doing jobs is not work experience, it is work. If it is work the person involved must be paid at least the NMW, whether it involves some residual training benefit to that person or not. Also an individual cannot voluntarily forgo the right to be paid the NMW where it is due.


But aren’t these people “volunteers”?
The NMW rules re volunteers are designed to deal with the issue of clubs and charities who may have people who give their time freely and without obligation. Someone on work experience is not a volunteer if they are given tasks to carry out, set hours, set meal breaks, appear on a call sheet or are doing tasks that a paid member of staff would otherwise be doing. That is work, and that must legally be paid the NMW. As the PACT rules state (rewritten after a meeting with the DTI) “A work experience person who…is expected to obey instructions should be paid at least the national minimum wage”.

The other issue is the question of how “voluntary” this work experience really is when every young person who enters the TV industry has to do it as a condition of getting paid employment. A recent survey found that almost all young people have had to do at least 3 months unpaid work before they get a paid job in the industry. That makes the “voluntary” nature somewhat suspect.


Why should I care about this?
Firstly because it is manifestly unfair that keen young people should be exploited in this way, for their labour to be used as a way of propping up the budgets of a TV production company. Of all the people on a production team, why should the youngest, weakest and probably most hard working be treated in this way?

Secondly young people who do unpaid work have to have independent means to support themselves while they are unpaid – that usually means their parents or their own savings. It often means that the less well off are thereby denied an opportunity to pursue a career in Film and Television. Fair?

And one very good point made by others – if companies can get people to do their work for free, why should they ever pay a wage to anyone. That then cascades upwards so the next level up is devalued and then the next.

The inevitable end point – no-one values real TV skills and no-one wants to pay for them.

An exaggeration? You ask the nearest Make Up Artist what has happened to their industry…


Surely that’s the price to pay if people want to break into a highly competitive industry?
Apart from the fact that it is illegal to use people in this way, why should young people have to give their time and effort unpaid just because lots of people want to do it? Should the basic morality of “a fair day’s pay for a day’s work” be compromised just because the media is a “glamorous” career?


Never did me any harm – it toughens you up – you need to be tough in the TV industry, it’s good training.
Listen Grandad the world’s moved on since your day – in case you hadn’t heard they scrapped National Service as well. The “toughening up” argument is nonsense – there are many skills you need to be a good TV Researcher/Producer/Cameraman/Director etc; the ability to generate good ideas, tell a story, frame a shot, capture good sound, prioritise, write good dialogue, manage people, manage budgets, have vision etc etc. Being able to live on fresh air is way way down the list.


OK I’m convinced, what can I do about all these companies who are exploiting young people and breaking the law?
Tell everybody about it – let everyone know who the offenders are right here.

Oh and join the union (BECTU) too – it really is the best way to start your career!

And of course you can also shop the offenders to the Inland Revenue. It’s easy to do (details available through this site). You can do it anonymously and the Revenue will never reveal your name. Or, if you don’t want to, PM me (click on my name) or send me an email (derrywatson@gmail.com) and I’ll do it for you. Your anonymity is guaranteed to be sacrosant – no-one will ever know.

HMRC always want to know about the people who break this law. And when HMRC get interested in a company on an issue like this, they tend to start looking at all aspects of a company’s finances – companies will soon realise it just isn’t worth the risk for a few hundred quid…


Unpaid work in TV is on its way out – we’ve come a long way in five years, let’s kill it for good.

*Edited to update the NMW rates*


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You and the minimum wage

Did you know that employers can’t avoid paying the National Minimum Wage if it’s due by:

… saying or stating that it doesn’t apply
… making a written agreement saying someone isn’t a worker or that they’re a volunteer

That’s what the law says – it’s all in here…
https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns

gov

Oh, and if you have done work for free in the past (other than work experience as part of your course) there’s a calculator here which will allow you to claim what you are owed. You can claim for all your underpayments going back over the last 6 years!
https://www.gov.uk/am-i-getting-minimum-wage

It doesn’t matter how big or small your employer was, or whether you were full or part time, or you were getting expenses, or you agreed to do it, or even if you signed a contract saying you would work for free. As long as you were entitled to the National Minimum Wage you can still get it.

Don’t believe me? Need some help? Contact Mark Watson for some confidentialfree help and advice on getting paid what you are owed.

See also How Much Should I Be Paid?

Unpaid workers in TV – has anything changed?

If anyone has any doubt about how much the landscape of TV unpaid work has changed, see these adverts from March 2005. It is rare to see this kind of advert nowadays without the company being howled down by everyone! (NB Don’t apply for any of these, they are 9 years old!):

1. Runner. Sixth Sense. Contract: 15 weeks 
“Sixth Sense Film & Television Ltd has an opportunity for a dynamic runner based in Birmingham. Working on a network factual children’s series based in a local hospital, we are looking for someone to support the day-to-day filming schedule. 

Duties will include everything from running errands and carrying kit to dealing with production crew and young contributors. 

This position is ideal for anyone who would like to be part of a small production team and experience working on location. 

All applicants must be flexible, as working hours will change from day to day depending on filming requirements. As work is within a hospital environment you must be in very good health, be a non-smoker, and be prepared to complete or have a current (less than 12 months old) CRB disclosure check. 

ALL CANDIDATES MUST BE BASED IN BIRMINGHAM. 

Position available from end of February for approximately 15 weeks. Payment is in form of a contribution of £140 per week towards expenses.”

2. Runner. Ethnic Multi Cultural Media Academy.
Contract: Ongoing
EMMA Media (Ethnic Multi Cultural Media Academy) is offering successful applicants the opportunity to come and work within our company as researchers/runners. The placement will be full/part time ongoing. We have produced successful EMMA Awards over the last seven years, 2004 was broadcast on the BBC. We also work closely with Saatchi & Saatchi regarding EMMA Award AD Campaigns. 
This is a fantastic opportunity for talented determined individuals to gain valuable experience and insight into the Media industry. Good research and communication skills will be required, experience is an advantage but not essential. 
All payments are strictly upon expenses basis only. 
Only those short-listed will be contacted.

3. Runner (unpaid) Long Way Round.
Contract: 1 week to 1 month
Work experience person needed to help out in small but busy production office. Duties will include general admin, running errands, filing, logging tapes, some research and generally mucking in. 
The successful candidate will be based in London and have good computer skills. No previous TV experience necessary. 


4. Runner (unpaid) Carnival Films. Contract: About 3 weeks
We have a work experience placement available for an in-house Runner over Easter. Duties will include general admin, working on reception, script reading, researching, and assisting the producers and other staff in all aspects of daily office life. 
No previous experience necessary but an interest in TV drama is desirable. 
Accommodation in London essential.


4. Researcher. Leopard Films. Contract: 2 weeks
“Out-going and self motivated people needed across the UK to help find contributors for Channel 4 Television factual entertainment series. Natural Born Dealers is an exciting new antiques show being produced by Leopard Films, (makers of Cash in the Attic, Car Booty & Money Spinners) and a nationwide hunt for participants is underway. If you’d like the opportunity to be involved in creating the next big hit on daytime TV then please apply. 
This will be a 2 week unpaid placement with travel expenses paid within the London area. This is a great foot in the door opportunity!”


5.. Trainee Producer. Vox Pops International. Contract: 6 – 8 weeks
“Fantastic work experience offered for well-organised, enthusiastic and presentable trainee producers to assist on our productions at fun, lively, dynamic company near Epsom. This is a very ‘hands on’ opportunity to film and edit – not a typical runners job. Some DV Camera and Final Cut Pro editing experience required. We pay towards your travel expenses to and from work up to £35 per week plus any other out of pocket expenses while working for us. Many of our staff started off on work experience with us although we cannot guarantee a job at the end of your placement which depends on your value to us and our work requirements at the time. Local car drivers preferred”

6.. Various positions. Carolan Productions. Contract: 12 weeks 
“We require people to work on a range of programming, including a game-show, a magazine style program, a documentary, some music promo’s, 2 short movies, and some TV commercials. The projects are in pre-production stage, we need talented and reliable people in the following areas. 
Presenters – To present the magazine program. 
Camera/ Lighting Operators (with own equipment preferable) – To assist in all of the ongoing projects. 
Production/ Location Managers – To manage the location and filming of the magazine program and documentaries. 
Researcher – To research material for the magazine program and documentaries. 
Editors – To edit, and create graphics for the music promo’s, documentaries, game show, also to create TV program trailers. 
Audio Designers/ Composers – To create theme tunes for the game-show, and background music/ sound for the films and documentaries. 
Writers – We are currently looking to create new and exciting (entertainment, reality & lifestyle) formats, we require people that want to work in a team, Carolan Productions will go on to produce the programs for TV channels. 
Web Designers (proficient in HTML & Flash) – Designers that will work on our website, for prospective clients, and produce Flash graphics for adverts. 
Please send an email (and CV) clearly stating your skill, and if you want a work placement (12 weeks etc) or work experience”


7.. Make up Artist. Endemol Productions. Contract: 9 days

“CBBC at Celebrity Fame Academy for Comic Relief 
Experienced make-up artist wanted looking to build CV in live terrestrial programming. 

The shows will be early morning live programmes and will entail making up our male and female CBBC presenters. 

The job will be weekdays starting March 2nd – 11th from around 6-8am (including a pilot on 24th Feb)

Unfortunately we can only cover the cost of travel but again this is a great opportunity to work behind the scenes on one of the UK’s biggest shows.

Please only apply if you live in the South London area and have a good knowledge of make-up for TV.”

Antoinette: Pure Directing. Davina Antoinette Julien

This one pretty much takes the exploitation biscuit:

FILM/TV – Seeking Individuals for a Manchester Based Production Company
Gorton, Manchester

Contract type
Permanent

PLEASE READ ALL OF THE INFORMATION ON THIS AD BEFORE YOU APPLY.
If it is apparent that you have not read this information, we will not proceed with your application. Certain expenses can be covered by the company, but productions are UNPAID.
Hello,

We are a Production Company in Manchester.
Antoinette: Pure Directing.

The company has 2 divisions – APD:Film and APD:TV.

APD:Film produces documentaries, short films, music videos and so on…

APD:TV – Launched in July, this division is a Manchester based online TV Channel.

We currently have a medium sized crew (20+) who express great teamwork and communication. They are very welcoming and professional.
HOWEVER, we are growing – I am seeking to fulfil new available positions:
*Executive Director (x2)
*Production Manager (x1)
*Director (x3)
*Special Effects Artist (x1)
*Camera Operator (x3)
Other Positions That Are Currently Open:

*Female Actress x 5
*Male Actor x 2
It is essential that ALL applicants:

– Are based in Manchester.
– Must not be involved within other projects/production companies to which leave their spare time restricted/inflexbile.
– Must have experience within the role they are applying for or a keen passion to be coached for it.
– Be applying for a permanent position. No temps.
– Must have own editing equipment (editors only).
– Are 18+ years old.
– Must have a DSLR camera (cameramen/women only)
– Have access to a Skype account (+ Microphone & Webcam).

———–

– CV must be attached to applications.
– When applying, please state which role you are applying for.

Successful applicants will be expected to have a virtual meeting via Skype and become involved within the company and/or the channel immediately. The role will not be restricted to one production – this will be your role within the company. Therefore this is your role for all productions, including current and upcoming ones (until further notice), as it is a permanent position. Recruitment Introductory Meetings are held every Monday (all day) and Thursday (evenings).

So, if you want experience working with a production company, please feel free to email me and enquire for more information.

 

Unpaid workers at London Live

Standard attacked for offering London Live unpaid internship as prize

The London Evening Standard is under fire for carrying an advert that offers an unpaid internship at its London Live TV channel as a competition prize.

Graduate Fog, the website that offers careers advice to graduates, has complained about the “fashion happy film competition”, which the Standard has been running jointly with the Westfield shopping group.

Readers are asked to enter short films that explain what makes them “#fashion happy”. The winning film-maker will get a £2,000 Westfield gift card plus an unpaid four-week internship “within the production team of London Live in 2015.”

Hay Graduate Fog has campaigned against unpaid internships in the belief that they are unfair to those who take them up. Aside from the fact that they are not compensated for the valuable work they often perform, they rarely, if ever, lead to paid employment.

It is particularly exercised by an internship being offered as a prize. Of the London Live offer, Graduate Fog says:

“What’s really disappointing is that the Evening Standard – and its sister title the Independent – has a long track record of publishing brilliant editorial that is supportive of interns’ fight for a fairer deal on pay, as well as the challenges facing young people who are either unemployed, or earning crummy salaries and wondering how they’ll ever pay off their debt or afford to move out of their parents’ home.”

Fog’s founder, Tanya de Grunwald, has written to the Standard about its competition offer to say:

“Please tell us it was a misprint and the internship is in fact paid for? The national minimum wage is £6.31 an hour for those aged 21 and over. The London living wage is £8.30 an hour.”

Several people have also complained about the contest on Twitter, such as the one featured here by Hayley Gullen.

NB: I write a weekly column for the Standard

 

The original story is here – another exclusive by the redoubtable Tanya de Grunwald of Graduate Fog:

http://graduatefog.co.uk/2014/3553/fashion-internship-london-live-evening-standard-competition-prize/

BBC not paying their workers

This just in from Graduate Fog:

BBC Scotland warned over unpaid runner roles at Glasgow 2014

“CHEERFUL, CAN-DO ATTITUDE” ESSENTIAL – BUT NO WAGE OFFERED* GRADUATE FOG EXCLUSIVE
*Has the BBC fluffed its renewed commitment to diversity already? BBC Scotland has been warned to stay within the law over multiple full-time, unpaid “voluntary runner” roles it advertised earlier this year, to work at a live event coinciding with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The advert was placed shortly before the corporation announced a renewed commitment to improving diversity among its staff, and the placements are happening now.
Graduate Fog has learned that broadcasting union BECTU has held talks with the BBC Scotland over the roles and is monitoring the corporation after multiple young applicants were spotted being recruited in May to work at ‘BBC at the Quay’. Wannabe runners were told they would need to sign up to one of two daily shifts (“early morning to mid-afternoon or mid-afternoon to close of site”) and that their job would involve “a variety of daily tasks.” Despite being told they must “support to the Events team and BBC productions team backstage, assist the site’s visitors and perform general runner duties” for no wages, applicants were told they must display “a cheerful can-do attitude” at all times. Here is the advert in full:

How to volunteer at BBC at The Quay

BBC at the Quay – Runners (Voluntary)

BBC at the Quay is a live, pop-up festival coinciding with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the accompanying city-wide cultural celebration Festival 2014. The site, in front of BBC Scotland’s HQ at Pacific Quay, will host a wide variety of live radio and television programmes and recordings as well as non-broadcast events originated both by the BBC and external organisations.

We aim to offer visitors of all ages a memorable, entertaining and high-quality experience in a safe environment. We will celebrate the cultural diversity of the Commonwealth using big BBC brands in a curated programme of events targeted both at audiences who already love the BBC and those who are harder for us to reach.

The site will be open for 16 days from Friday 19th July – Sunday 3rd August 2014. We are looking for Volunteers who would be available for the entire period to help us run the event smoothly. There will also be a Volunteers Briefing on Thursday 17th July which you will be required to attend. These are full time positions.

This is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience in live event production during one of the most exciting sporting events ever to take place in Glasgow. As a volunteer you will also have the chance to learn from industry professionals from all areas of the BBC such as TV, Radio and Events.

There will be a variety of daily tasks to carry out as you work across the festival site to support the Events team and the BBC production teams backstage, assist the site’s visitors and perform general Runner duties. Volunteers’ tasks are varied and require a cheerful, can-do attitude.

The site is open from 09:00 until 01:00 daily. Volunteers would cover one of two daily shifts, either early morning to mid-afternoon or mid-afternoon to close of site however there may be some variations of this shift pattern to accommodate special broadcasts.

There will be a significant amount of interaction with the public in these roles, so it is important that candidates are confident, friendly and aware of their role as ambassadors for the BBC at all times.

We are looking for reliable candidates who can work well under pressure, are able to adapt to working with multiple teams, demonstrating clear communication skills and the flexibility to adapt to a wide range of situations. Previous experience of events or production environments would be beneficial, but not essential.

PLEASE NOTE: You will need to be based in the Glasgow area as we will be unable to provide accommodation. Travel expenses to and from the site will be supplemented. In addition, Volunteers must attend a briefing on Thursday 17th July at the BBC at the Quay site located outside the BBC Scotland’s headquarters at 40 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1DA. All volunteers must be over 18. Food & drink will be provided for all Volunteers.

If you’re interested in volunteering, or would like to find out more, please email:- thequay@bbc.co.uk

Applicants should include a CV, a short reference and a statement about why they want to be considered for this position.

Application deadline: 23:59pm Monday 05 May 2014

Were these really ‘volunteer’ roles? And were they really open to everyone? We asked BBC Scotland to explain:

To: BBC
From: Graduate Fog
Re: Unpaid runners at BBC at the Quay

My name is Tanya de Grunwald and I run the graduate careers blog Graduate Fog.

One of my readers has drawn my attention to an advert for voluntary runners to work at BBC at the Quay during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the accompanying cultural Festival 2014 (pasted below).

The advert states that the positions are “full-time” and involve “daily tasks”. As such, can you explain how the BBC feels these positions fit with the UK’s National Minimum Wage law?

I would also like to ask how you feel that these are truly accessible to all young people, when they are full-time and unpaid?

With many thanks

Tanya

The BBC replied:

From: BBC
To: Graduate Fog

Dear Tanya

Thankyou for your email about volunteers at BBC@the Quay.

These work experience placements are for the BBC@the Quay ‘live site’ and will be based at BBC Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow. The site will showcase BBC brands, content and services and provide a destination site for members of the public. The site is part of the BBC’s commitment to the wider cultural programme that is running alongside the Commonwealth Games. The advertised roles will support the running of the site and will involve undertaking a variety of tasks which will allow those successful candidates to obtain valuable skills and work experience, during an extremely exciting time for the BBC and for Glasgow.

These roles have been defined in line with our work experience policy; individuals are placed within the BBC for a limited period of time, during which they have the opportunity to learn directly about working life and the working environment in the broadcasting industry. The BBC@the Quay work experience placements will offer valuable work experience to assist individuals in obtaining future employment in the sector.

The BBC Work Experience policy has strict guidelines in relation to working hours and shifts and successful candidates will work on a rota basis in line with these requirements.

BBC Scotland chose to open these opportunities to the general public in order to allow a diverse range of candidates to apply, and to provide opportunities to those individuals who missed out on the official Commonwealth Games organising committee volunteering placements.

This is not a new approach to work experience. BBC Scotland has undertaken similar work experience programmes to support running the Edinburgh Festival site. BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals is entering its fourth year, and each year BBC Scotland have offered similar work experience opportunities to allow local students and members of the public the opportunity to gain valuable experience at such a significant cultural event. Feedback from the volunteers in previous years has been extremely positive. The placements provided development and networking opportunities for individuals trying to establish themselves in the industry or looking to gain new skills and experience. Many of our volunteers from previous years have gone on to secure paid employment with the BBC, in our Runner or Production Management Assistant pools.

I would like to reassure you that those who are successful in securing one of the BBC @the quay work experience opportunities will be managed in line with the BBC work experience policy and will also benefit from CV clinics and career support in terms of advice on how to secure future employment with the BBC. These workshops will be an integrated part of their placements with BBC @the quay.

Sharon Mair is the Project Executive with responsibility for the design and delivery of the site and would be happy to discuss the programme with you in more detail by phone or in person if that would be helpful.

Kind regards

Hm. Not that reassuring, is it? We wrote back:

To: BBC
From: Graduate Fog

Thanks for this.

However, I remain unclear on how these positions fit with the minimum wage law, which states that anybody who does work that’s of value to their employer and would otherwise need to be done by a paid member of staff must be paid for their time. I am not interested in how they fit with the BBC’s work experience policy, only how they fit with UK employment law. The fact that ‘shifts’ are involves also suggests that these runners will have set hours, (ie will not be free to come and go as they please) which further cements a ‘worker’ relationship, by law. If somebody is a ‘worker’, their employer must pay them. They cannot waive their right to pay, even if they say they are willing to work for free as it’s such good experience.

I am also concerned that you continue to underline how these unpaid positions lead to paid jobs. Surely this only underlines the fact that paid positions are out of reach to those who cannot afford to work for free first?

Thanks again

Tanya

The BBC wrote back:

To: Graduate Fog
From: BBC Scotland

Hi Tanya

Thank you for your reply.

The positions that we have advertised for work experience at the BBC@ The Quay site are support roles, which will be in addition to the several hundred team members working at the site across the duration of the festival. Large BBC productions will be taking place at the site, aided by their own teams of BBC employees. The festival itself is not therefore dependent on the roles of those undertaking the work experience placements. Of course, these positions will provide support to help the event run more smoothly but they are not event critical positions. Therefore they are not positions which would otherwise need to be filled by a paid member of staff.

The set hours of the placements are in line with our work experience policy which states that ‘Managers should ensure individuals know their expected daily start and finish times including breaks’. Breaks will also be on a rota and assigned based on the start and finish times. In managing the work experience placements by a rota system, it will allow for each individual to gain exposure to the variety of live productions and events that the site has to offer them in gaining valuable experience.

I do hope that clarifies the points you raised.

Kind regards

As we seemed to be going round in circles, we contacted our friends at BECTU. Happily, it turned out they were already on the case. A representative from BECTU in London told us:

“Our Scottish colleagues have had detailed discussions with BBC Scotland on this and are satisfied that these are work experience placements, and that they will be utilised in accordance with the BECTU-BBC agreements for such placements. Our local branch safety reps will also be monitoring their usage to ensure the agreements are fully adhered to.

“We agree that the wording of this advert may look bad, but my understanding is once the detailed arrangements were spelled out, our colleagues were reassured that in practice it’s above board. We’ve encountered this before: a badly-composed ad or listing makes a perfectly acceptable arrangement look dodgy.

“As the recognised union at the BBC, we have numerous formal agreements with them, including an agreement on work placements. There have been detailed discussions between BECTU reps and BBC management about this particular situation…

“We can’t publish the minutes of those discussions because they are the joint property of BECTU and the BBC – that’s how industrial relations works. But the BBC has given us formal assurances about this particular arrangement, and on that basis we believe that it is in line with our agreement.

“What’s more, to back that up, we will have the names of all the young people on these work placements, and our reps will have access to them to give support and advice, and if any of them is unhappy they will be able to lodge a formal complaint or grievance.”

Given BECTU’s excellent record on investigating unpaid work, Graduate Fog is confident that they will do an thorough job of monitoring these roles to ensure that those who have taken them feel fairly treated as true ‘volunteers’. However, we remain concerned that the BBC has yet again shown a lack of understanding about the underlying causes of their diversity problem. Undoubtedly, these runner roles will improve the CVs of those who do the roles. But surely young people from wealthier backgrounds are more likely to be in a position to take them? What about those who need to earn actual money this summer – won’t they be excluded?

Tales of TV’s Dark Side

Hi
I hope you might be able to help me with a worthwhile project.
I’m helping out with a session at this year’s Edinburgh television festival entitled “HOW TO RUN A BETTER INDIE” which will feature the true stories of the worst things freelancers have ever had to do in the name of making great, and not so great, telly, and I’m looking to gather those examples.
I going to use actors/comedians to film a range of anonymous anecdotes  (written in a way that will hide their identities) that reveal some of the lunatic demands placed upon freelancers during their career. We won’t be asking people to name names and all the anecdotes will be treated in the strictest confidence so participants shouldn’t worry about their career prospects.
This is a chance to vent and share horrifying or hilarious (or both) tales of working in telly. But it will have a purpose- we’ll screen the stories to a panel of influential industry insiders at the festival to see how they react and ask them what they’ll do to make the world we work in a better place.
I’d really appreciate it if you could forward/post/share/tweet this link www.tvhorrorstories.wordpress.com which contains the details, among your members, facebook friends and colleagues or ask them to email their experiences to paultvcasting@gmail.com 
 
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any further information.
 
Thanks for taking the time to read this

Best

Paul Hughes

JackFrancis Media. Steven Harris

A company that likes to make money, but doesn’t like to spend it on its junior workers. Shameful behaviour JackFrancis Media!

Employer: JackFrancis Media
Location: Basildon – Norfolk pointer
Duration: 20th – 25th July, starts 20th July
More Info: http://www.jackfrancismedia.co.uk
Apply to: Jessica
Created: 13 Jun 2014, Expires: 27 Jun 2014

We are looking for a Production Runner that is available for 6 days from the 20th – 25th July. For an apprentice style show for an online audience. Please only apply if you are available for the entire shoot duration.

You don’t need bags of experience to apply for this role, however you do need a keen and hard working attitude whilst on set and be willing to work long hours. This is the perfect opportunity for someone looking to gain experience on set and learn from a very talented crew. Please note the role is unpaid.

The filming location is in Norfolk, you need to be able to make your own way to location, but your accommodation, expenses & food will be provided for the 6 days.

Please include any relevant experience in your application.

Why isn’t this paid at least the minimum wage?