57 HAPPENING FEED Events
WEB CHAT FEED and Soho Media Live collaborated to arrange a webinar called Creating a Freelancer Playbook for Covid-19: Tips and Tricks, which was conducted using Zoom
WHAT’S BEEN HIGHLIGHTED IS THAT 150,000 CREW OUT THERE ARE ACTUALLY PRECARIOUS WORKERS, ANDWE CAN’T ALLOWTHAT TO CARRY ON
recovery, we may see people not coming back. But that is good news for young people,” he said. FORCE MAJEURE Entertainment lawyer Tom Guida said it was a particularly important time for workers to understand their contracts. He notes especially the force majeure clause in a contract, which isn’t often paid much notice in normal circumstances. Force majeure means that if there are certain circumstances beyond a company’s control that prevent it from carrying out its obligations, then it is freed from having to execute on them. Frustration is another situation in which neither of the parties in a contract are able to carry out their obligations, because the whole enterprise has become untenable. In a frustration scenario – as when crew are unable to go to their jobs because the government has ordered them to stay at home – companies many not be obligated to pay their employees. “The thing about a lot of these clauses is that they are very complicated and they often turn on a single word,” warned Guida. “If you get it wrong, you may have breached the contract. But force majeure isn’t an automatic out for companies who don’t want to pay you.”
UNDERLYING PROBLEMS The panel was nearly unanimous in its view that the coronavirus crisis has exposed underlying problems in the way the industry does business and in the condition of workers generally. “We really need to ask questions about this industry in the future,” said Lennon. “It has been highly reliant on a contingent workforce that has carried most of the risk, and they’re now facing the price of the risk that was handed over to them. We need to find ways of passing that risk back.” His colleague Nia Hughes added: “My main concern is that we’re going to get over this and then everyone will be so happy the industry is back up and running that they will forget that we desperately need a new deal for freelancers. What’s been highlighted is that 150,000 crew out there are actually precarious workers, and we can’t allow that to carry on.” NATIONAL APPROACHES It was noted that different regions are responding to the crisis with varying
levels of competence. There was some criticism for the UK’s handling of the crisis among workers and some approval for the inconceivably huge injection of $2 trillion ‘helicopter money’ into the US economy (although this money will go mostly to US corporations, not to individuals). The Scandinavian countries also garnered praise for their response – for example, the Danish government has promised to pay workers 75% of their current salaries. For staff paid by the hour, the maximum coverage is 90%. While some businesses have battened down the hatches and gone silent, others are working to provide solutions to workers who are hurting. Those interested in more information can sign up for updates on the Film and TV Charity website at filmtvcharity.org.uk/ keep-in-touch. The fund is available to a wide range of film and TV workers, and Sarah Putt emphasised that no one should assume they ineligible. As the situation evolves and other companies come onboard to help, details will be made available.
You can watch the entire discussion at FEED’s YouTube channel: youtu.be/NSHL6295tgQ Or listen on the FEED:TALK podcast : feedtalk.blubrry.net
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