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With Workline’s origin in the Film and TV Industries, we thought we’d return to the infamous HMRC ‘Film, Television and Production Industry Guidance Notes’, that provide advice on how to determine the correct employment status of workers in these industries, and who can be genuinely self-employed/freelance.
These guidance notes were updated at the end of December 2019 and we cover all the major points of the updated guidance here. They only apply to off-screen ‘talent’, not to actors or presenters.
The old guidance was issued originally in 2003, revised in 2011 and 2012, and the original guidance notes provided advice “with regard to the application of PAYE and National Insurance Contributions to non-permanent, casual and freelance workers in the Film, Television and Production Industries” and contain the all-important list of who can legitimately be freelance in these industries.
Deciding a worker’s status is crucial for both the individual and their Employer as, besides the implications for tax and National Insurance, it’s the only way to determine what employment rights an individual has.
The guidance was originally published as a PDF, but at the end of December 2019, they were moved to the HMRC’s Employment Status Manual (ESM) website, and they start at ESM4115. The guidance covers sole traders as well as limited companies.
There are two main differences in the new Guidance that we can see:
The new 2019 HMRC guidance says the following individuals can normally be regarded as self-employed provided either:
“Specific production” means either:
“Finite Period” means:
“Discrete Engagement” means:
Each time a programme is re-commissioned the employment status of the individual should then be reviewed more thoroughly. HMRC advise that you should consider whether, if the engager re-hires the same person for further engagements, each of those engagements continues to be a separate agreement, or if the parties have created an overarching agreement for a longer-term commitment to each other. See ESM0553.
If the circumstances have changed, you should look at the whole picture and apply the general (HMRC) guidance.
The list of roles in Appendix 1 is not exhaustive. Where a role is not listed it does not necessarily mean an individual is an employee. HMRC and engagers in the industry should use the full range of employment status indicators to decide the status of people not on this list. The HMRC Employment Status Guidance/Manual is at ESM0500.
The guidance goes onto say that (regarding short-term engagements) some behind camera individuals may not meet the criteria in the list of roles normally treated as self-employed (for example if they are not providing their own equipment), but they might work on a succession of short term engagements with a large number of different clients.
‘Short’ in this case means 10 days or less.
Where the work patterns and business structure are consistent with the circumstances of the Lorimer case, such individuals can be treated as self-employed. ESM4121.
It can be difficult for an engager to verify such work patterns, the individual can seek confirmation from HMRC that an engager may treat them as self-employed. ESM4110.
For behind camera individuals who do not meet the criteria in the list of roles normally accepted as self-employed, and where the engager has determined their status as employment, HMRC will permit NI only deductions to be made provided that:
NI only deductions means that National Insurance contributions are deducted but not tax.
The period of seven days includes rest days and weekends if these fall between the first and last days of engagement. For example, if a worker is engaged for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and for the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the weekend must be counted and the limit of seven days will be exceeded.
The guidance also says, that from 20 December 2019, engagers should treat individuals who meet these Appendix 1 criteria as self-employed – this applies to new contracts and extension of existing contracts.
This is a brief Summary of Appendix 1 Roles (the full list can be found here).
“Roles will normally be treated as self-employed provided specific criteria from either column A or B, or both, are met”:
(These are a selection of jobs in Appendix 1; please refer to Appendix 1 for complete list of jobs)
|Column A – Criteria
(I have written Etc. where the description continues in the full Appendix 1)
|Column B – * Criteria
(for those roles marked with an asterisk *, the engagement must be on a “specific production” for a finite period).
(I have written Etc. where further related roles are included in the full Appendix 1)
|What they do
(I have written Etc. where the description continues in the full Appendix 1).
|DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY||Has control over execution of tasks and conducts preparatory work away from engager’s premises||*||Director of Photography||Designs lighting and photography. Responsible for the overall look of the production. ETC.|
|CAMERA OPERATOR||Where the contract requires the provision of substantial equipment to provide the service without increase fee or other payment.||*||Camera Supervisor
|Studio or OB based, senior camera person. Responsible for the look of the production and management of camera team.
Provides and operates camera equipment, may work to a Director of Photography or camera supervisor. ETC.
|ART DIRECTOR||Multiple and/or overlapping clients. Etc.||*||Art Director||Ensuring designer’s vision is achieved. Plans, organises and controls the visual aspects of a set.|
|Creates physical look and fell of the production.
Designs the look and feel of studio sets.
|ANIMATION DIRECTOR||Multiple and/or overlapping Clients. Etc.||*||Animation Director||Interpret the brief from the Director. Etc.|
|EDITOR||Has control over execution of task. Etc.||*||Editor
|Crafts assembled raw footage into coherent editorial story.|
|ELECTRICAL AND LIGHTING|
|LIGHTING DIRECTOR||Where responsible for designing lighting or photography. Etc.||*||Lighting Director
|Ensures the Designer’s vision is achieved.
Creates the lighting design for a production.
|MAKE-UP ARTIST||Where the contract requires the provision of a standard make-up kit etc.||*||Makeup Artist
|Responsible for the overall design, application and care of make up during the production.|
|WRITER||*||Writer||Originator of script|
|SCRIPT WRITER||Except reporting scripts||*||Script Writer
|Originator of script
Edits original script
|SCRIPT SUPERVISOR||Where script breakdown is an integral part of the contract||*||Script Supervisor
|Responsible for breakdown of scripts into filming blocks etc.|
|PRODUCER||Where the majority of the work is not carried out on the engager’s premises.||*||Producer
|Can be the creator of story idea, responsible for delivering the vision, tone, content and look of the production. Etc.
Directors are responsible for visualisation of the script and/or the shaping of creative content…. Etc.
Ultimate guarantor of the quality of the production. Etc.
|Responsible for visualisation of the script and/or the shaping of creative content. Etc.|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER||Generally self-employed except where engaged primarily for general research||*||Associate Producer||As producer but may also have raised some of the finance for the script/production Etc.|
|SPECIALIST RESEARCHER||Where the individual has an existing profession, specialist knowledge and is engaged for a specific project.||*||Specialist Researcher||Experts in their chosen field Etc.|
|PRODUCTION MANAGER||Has control over execution of task. Multiple and/or overlapping clients.||*||Production Manager||Responsible for managing all aspects of production, works closely with editorial colleagues etc.|
|PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR||As above||*||Production Supervisor||Responsible for sourcing, negotiating and hiring film crew etc.|
|PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE||As above||*||Production Executive||Responsible for all aspects of production including budget and schedule, etc.|
|LINE PRODUCER||Has control over execution of tasks. Conducts preparatory work away from engager’s premises||*||Line Producer||Responsible for all aspects of production including budget and schedule, etc.|
|SOUND MAINTENACE ENGINEER, SOUND MIXER AND SOUND RECORDIST||Where the contract requires the provision of the necessary substantial equipment to provide the service, or… etc.||*||Sound Maintenance Engineer
|Maintains sound recording and playout equipment.|
|THERE ARE ALSO SECTIONS FOR:|
There are specific terms used in Appendix 1 to describe the criteria which must be met for the relevant job. See ESM4117 which describes these (which includes ‘Premises provided by the Engager’, ‘Substantial Provision of Materials/Equipment’ and ‘Tools of the Trade’).
The Film Production Unit is based at Trinity Bridge House, 2 Dearmans Place, East Wing, 4th floor, SALFORD, GREATER MANCHESTER, M3 5BS and is responsible for engagers in film and TV production, which includes production of TV commercials and corporate videos.
The Film Production Unit can be contacted on 0300 123 2326.
If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk – a Human Resources Consultancy for small and creative businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.