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26/11/2009

BECTU Support Pays Off

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An Employment Tribunal has ruled that workers engaged on an expenses-only basis are entitled to payment in line with the national minimum wage.
This is in addition to payment for the holidays they accrue.
The decision, in Reading, arose from a case brought forward by a former art department assistant, against London Dreams Motion Pictures Ltd. In July 2008, Nicola Vetta was employed on the production of Coulda Woulda Shoulda on an expenses-only basis.
The broadcast union, BECTU supported her case and welcomed the judgement as an important milestone in efforts to rid the industry of exploitative employers.
The decision brings the creative industry into line with obligations under the national minimum wage regulations.
BECTU's Assistant General Secretary, Martin Spence, gave evidence in support of the case. Commenting on the decision, Martin said: "This decision will give enormous comfort to industry workers, and in particular to new entrants, who face huge demands when they are starting out but who can often find themselves at risk of exploitation."
He continued: "The industry's reliance on unpaid labour is giving film and television production a bad name. We hope that this judgement will draw a line in the sand and that we will see more employers complying with the law."
Nicola Vetta added: "I am delighted with the outcome and I hope it will bring greater fairness to work in the media.
"There is a need for genuine work experience but it is wrong for employers to exploit the aspirations of young people as a source of 'zero cost' labour.
"In today's difficult jobs market, this practice seems to be increasingly common. Working for free is becoming accepted as a necessary investment to securing a paid job. I hope that publicising this case will help to reverse that trend."
BECTU continues to play an active role in exposing bad practice and is working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to get both sides of industry to recognise the law.
(BMcN/BMcC)
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