Screen Daily, 5 September 2017

In a feature looking at ‘How the UK film sector is trying to improve workplace conditions,’ Andreas Wiseman draws attention to:

the publication of a stark report claiming “unlawful, invisible and unfair” employment practices that discriminate against people in the UK film and TV industry who are parents and carers. The BFI-backed investigation, titled ‘Raising Our Game: Next Steps for the UK Film and Television Industry’, was published by Raising Films, a pressure group that supports members of the industry who are parents and carers.

The result of six months’ research, the damning survey found the UK screen sector suffers from a “precarious and exploitative culture” because of “casualised labour practices, deregulation, deunionisation and persistent ignorance of the wider legislative employment framework within the UK”.

According to the group, this has resulted in parents and carers not being granted employment rights available to them and “offered no system for speaking out”. The report cites legislation that is not “understood, adopted or practised” across the industry, including the Equality Act of 2010 (which rules that it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone based on ‘protected characteristics’ including gender or pregnancy and maternity) and the Employment Rights Act 1996 (which grants employees the statutory right to ask for a change to their contractual terms to work flexibly).

The report also suggests that “bullying; sexual discrimination; sexual harassment; unlawful dismissal due to pregnancy; and failure to gain work due to parenthood or caring responsibilities” are prevalent in the industry, along with a “dependence on a culture of networking and an informal recruitment policy”, which is seen as a major barrier for people who are parents and carers.

Wiseman also notes that:

David Andrews, head of employment at law firm Lee & Thompson… confirms some of the key findings from the Raising Films report, including the prevalence of discrimination and harassment: “I would say it still happens a lot more than is reported because people are scared of being blacklisted and not rehired to work on the productions they want to work on.”

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