UK broadcasting union Bectu and producer trade body Pact have struck a new agreement regulating members’ work on TV dramas, after almost a year of ongoing negotiations.
The deal, which runs for three years, means Bectu members working on UK independent scripted TV drama will be engaged under new terms from 1 January 2023, after 59.7% of members voted for the agreement.
Full details can be seen below, with the arrangement setting out terms, conditions and best working practices for Pact’s drama company member base in areas such as hours, rest breaks, travel time and dealing with complaints.
The new deal will apply to all new and existing productions from 1 January 2023, unless the drama has commenced principal photography in 2022 and has completed more than 50% of its filming schedule in 2022, and providing it is scheduled to complete principal photography by 31 March 2023.
It draws a line under an extended process that left scripted producers in the UK without a uniform set of term of conditions to work from when setting crew contracts.
Negotiations were extended by a month in August after Bectu members “overwhelmingly” rejected earlier terms offered by Pact in a ballot held earlier in the summer.
Among Bectu’s sticking points had been that the proposed terms did not do enough to protect the boundaries between working and personal hours.
A host of UK prodcos, including Marcella producer Buccaneer Media and Normal People firm Element Pictures, had urged Bectu members to agree a new deal or risk “the whole of scripted TV” being damaged.
More recently, Pact published a ‘Red Book’ of its own set of terms and conditions for indies to use in engaging crew on scripted productions and first highlighted its offer of a four-week extension to the existing agreement, which at that time had been rejected by parts of Bectu.
Pact said the new deal would “provide stability for the industry at a time of economic challenge.” It covers all scripted including regional/nations drama, kids and comedy – “productions that can be difficult to finance but are fundamental to the drama landscape because they are a training ground for new and diverse talent and crew members,” Pact added.
The trade body added: “Pact would like to thank the heads of production from member companies who worked tirelessly in order to find pragmatic and fair solutions to issues raised during negotiations.”
Bectu chief, Philippa Childs, said: “This has been a complex, protracted and at times difficult process and I want to thank all those who voted and our reps, who have dedicated many hours over the last 18 months and have been determined to highlight important issues for our members.
“Our focus has always been on delivering improved terms and conditions for all those working in TV drama. We are pleased to have made some improvements but recognise there is still further progress to be made in addressing key issues that impact our members’ lives.
“We will be monitoring the new agreement’s implementation closely and will continue to work with the UK’s world-class film and TV industry to advance work-life balance for freelancers in the sector and achieve a more sustainable industry for all.”
Changes to the 2022 agreement include:
- Scheduled days can only be 10+1 – 10 hours worked plus 1 unpaid hour for lunch (11+1 days have been eliminated in TV Drama)
- Sixth shooting days paid at 1.5T and non-shooting sixth days paid at a minimum of 10 hours for 6 hours worked or 1.5T if over 6 hours (2017 had no additional payment for sixth consecutive days)
- A cap on split days for schedules over 7 weeks
Weekends, early calls and nightwork
- Workers will be given two weeks’ notice for weekend working
- Nightwork is now shooting hours from 11pm (rather than midnight) and compensated weekly instead of after the run of nights
- Dailies receive a rest day after night work
- Cancellation for dailies now from 1pm instead of 3pm
Overtime, mileage and other allowances
- Overtime cap has been increased to £70 ($86) per hour from £45
- Mileage is paid after 25 miles (30 miles in 2017 agreement)
- Bank holidays are to be paid at 2T if worked and workers on band 4 will be paid at 1T if not worked (the 2017 agreement had no increased payment for bank holidays)
- Grace periods have been abolished (under the 2017 agreement, production could call these twice for no additional pay)
- Undefined ‘prep and wrap’ time has been replaced and limited to one paid hour per day
- The agreement now covers made for TV features and streamers