The battle for holiday pay in our industry was one which freelancers won many years ago, a right confirmed by BECTU in a landmark European court victory in 2001. Most companies now do the right thing, adding holiday pay on top of the rate (usually 10.77%) and, where time off has not been taken, paying it at the end of the contract.
Most companies – but not Leopard Pictures, where numerous freelancers have been in contact to say that the company has been failing to pay holiday pay on top of the rate for the job on their current production “Hard Cell” starring Catherine Tate (and others).
What the Line Producer, Carleen Beadle-Larcombe, has been doing is agreeing a rate with a freelancer and then, after they have started the job, has then issued contracts which say that the holiday pay is “included”. That despite official guidance that it is unlawful to “roll up” holiday pay into a rate:
I asked her about this and she did not deny that this was what had happened, but she claimed that it was “standard procedure” (it absolutely is not). I was then referred to Amanda Goddard at the parent company Argonon who was initially happy to discuss the issue but then abruptly decided to pull up the drawbridge, offering only that anyone who had an issue with this should contact HR. That kind of suggestion is of course entirely unhelpful in an industry where freelancers are notoriously afraid of getting a bad reputation where everything relies so heavily on word of mouth recommendation.
This all comes in the same week that BECTU released a landmark report on the treatment of workers in the industry where freelancers talk of the frustration they feel about being duped by production companies who agree a rate only to find “the goalposts are moved” once they start the job. By not adding holiday pay on top of the rate, as many honourable companies do across the industry, Leopard Productions are, at best, clearly behaving with a lack of transparency and failing to deal with freelancers in a fair and straightforward way.
If anyone has been treated like this by Leopard Pictures, feel free to get in touch, in confidence (firstname.lastname@example.org). There are already several freelancers who are pretty fed up at being treated this way by a company which is happy to proclaim its desire to outlaw modern slavery and human trafficking (how much of this is there in the UK TV industry?) but less keen to fair deal with its freelancers by behaving in the way that the majority of good production companies do.