1. Runners cannot be self employed, whatever a company may tell you. This seems to crop up a lot so here are the facts:
Runners must be paid via PAYE and are not permitted to be registered as self employed for their runner work. The only variation to this is that a runner can be paid gross if they work for fewer than seven days for a company, and there is no intention for them to be rebooked for further engagements.
In this case, you can be paid gross however – crucially – the company MUST pay the National Insurance contributions (if you are over the minimum threshold) and must give you a pay slip which shows that. This does NOT however make a runner “self employed”. There is one other exception relating to getting a special letter of dispensation but it very rarely applies.
If a company tells you that you must be self employed to do a job for them, or tells you you are “freelance”, or does not pay your NI then they are breaking HMRC’s rules and you will be losing out on a number of benefits by them treating you this way.
(NB it isn’t your decision whether you can be treated as “self employed”. It isn’t the right of a company to decide either. The only body that decides your legitimate tax status is HMRC!).
2. In terms of pay, every runner should be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour that they work. The minimum wage rates (including the new rate for over-25s) are here. To work out if you are getting the legal minimum, take the number of hours that you have actually worked (not including your lunch hour) and multiply that by the applicable minimum wage rate for your age. If the pay you receive for that day’s work is less than that amount (no matter what your agreed rate is) then you have been underpaid (calculate weekly if you are paid weekly, monthly if you are paid monthly etc).
Many runners are often not paid what they should be because they are being worked for over-long hours for a rate of pay which is not sufficient to meet the legal minimum. Also, if you are taken on for unpaid work experience and are then simply treated as a worker, you should be paid at least the minimum wage for all your hours.
3. Runners should be paid holiday pay, accrued for every day they work. All workers earn an entitlement for time off when they work for a company. In an ideal world, they would be allowed to have that time off while they are working, however the demands of production mean that many TV workers are unable to take that time off during a production.
If that happens then the company should pay you an amount of money on top of your pay in lieu of that holiday. That amount comes to 10.77% of the amount you have been paid. That sum should be passed to you at the conclusion of your contract and cannot be “rolled up” into your rate of pay (ie they cannot say at the beginning of your contract “this is your daily rate and it includes holiday pay”).
If you need personal advice on any of this, feel free to email Mark Watson on email@example.com. Advice is entirely free and confidential to you.
What is the difference between “being freelance” and being “self employed”