BECTU's factual TV code of practice: Will it work?

bectuLast week at its Freelancers’ Fair, BECTU unveiled the nine points it aims will put an end to poor working conditions in factual television. Will this code of practice help make the issue go away, or is it something that will remain ignored?

The practice includes a maximum working day of 11 hours; two days off each week (either the traditional Sat/Sun or two other consecutive days) plus meal and mileage allowances.

The trade union has been campaigning for better working conditions for quite some time, and in February revealed some starting truths about the sector.

Conducting a survey with freelancers working in factual TV, BECTU revealed over 75% of workers are concerned with working in excess of 11 hours a day, with budget constraints and too little rest time making up another major woe.

Other concerns revealed in the survey, which forms part of the union’s Say No to Exploitation in TV campaign, included rates of pay and short staffing.

BECTU hopes that indie production companies will agree to the code of practice, making working conditions better for freelancers.

In March it held a debate about the issue in London, with The Garden, Lion Television, Hardcash Productions and Al Jazeera attending to support the concerns. Other major indie production companies failed to respond to the invitation to attend.

Do you think indie’s will sign up to the code of practice? Will this put an end to poor working conditions in factual TV? Why not let us know what you think via our Facebook page.

The nine points are as follows:

1) A maximum length of working day of 11 hours

2) Two days off each week (either the traditional Sat/Sun or two consecutive days)

3) A minimum break between turns of duty of 11 hours

4) Meal and mileage allowances in line with HMRC rules

5) Holiday pay expressed separately from basic rates for freelancers (where contract length does not permit holiday to be taken during the contract period)

6) A normal working week of five days. Where it is unavoidable to work on the sixth or seventh day, this is to be paid at one fifth of the weekly (five day rate or given compensatory TOIL, according to the preference of the worker)

7) Health and safety risk assessments to take account of lone working and crewing levels

8) Written contracts to be issued as soon as terms are agreed between parties

9) On acceptance that BECTU is the recognized union to represent the interests of workers in factual programme-making and as such we (the production company) are prepared to meet with them on a regular basis to discuss issues of concern to their members