Changes to film industry industrial relations on the way - Employment Update - Week 3, August

Changes to film industry industrial relations on the way

The Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, Iain Lees-Galloway, recently confirmed that the Government is adopting the model for industrial relations that was unanimously put forward by the Film Industry Working Group.

The Working Group highlighted the carve-out sections (ss 6(1)(d) and 6(1A)) of the Employment Relations Act 2000 which specifically exclude film production workers from being an employee. The Working Group recommended the retention of those provisions, but with modification such that the agreement between the screen production worker and screen production company will determine whether or not the worker is an employee or a contractor. Under the model, if the agreement stated the worker to be a contractor that would be the end of the enquiry with no ability to turn to the usual common law tests to assess whether the contractor can be deemed an employee.

Under the model, if the worker agrees to be an employee, the worker will be governed by the ordinary provisions under the Employment Relations Act 2000 as it applies to other employees. However, where a worker agrees to be a contractor, the report recommends a parallel set of labour legislation governing the relationship between the contractor and the screen production company.

The model for contractors to screen production companies includes obligations of good faith between the parties, protection of the contractors from bullying, harassment and discrimination, the requirement for the screen production company to pay notice for termination without cause and the obligation to pay screen production contractors a fair rate of pay. The last principle is intended to be given effect by requiring collective contracts to cover pay in the form of minimum rates.

The recommended framework for collective bargaining between contractors and screen production companies includes the obligation to conduct bargaining in good faith, to enter into an agreement, and the requirement for a formal process to recognise and register groups seeking to collectively bargain on behalf of screen production workers. However, in contrast to normal collective bargaining for employees, the Working Group recommended a prohibition on strikes and lockouts in relation to collective bargaining for screen production contractors, based on the volatility and international mobility of the screen industry.

The Minister announced that the Government will draft legislation, to be introduced later this year. The changes are expected to pass into law in mid-2020.