VFX staff work hard to bring film, television and commercials to life, creating images and sequences that captivate and inspire audiences. But for too many, working in the VFX industry can be a draining experience, with long, unpredictable hours and insecure contracts. That's why BECTU have launched the VFX Charter.
1. Overtime must be voluntary
Overtime for VFX staff should be voluntary, allowing people to meet their other, personal commitments. Everyone knows that sometimes projects overrun, but staff shouldn’t be the ones responsible for making up the shortfall left by poor time management by others.
2. Overtime must be paid
When staff work longer than their contractual hours, they must be paid for their extra efforts. Failing to do so is disrespectful, effectively asking staff to work in their spare time for free, and leads to disorganised and poorly managed workloads, as companies can rely on free labour when project management fails. • Any hours worked beyond normal daily hours (normally 8 hours) count as overtime. Any hour or fraction of an hour of overtime, up to four hours, should be paid for at the hourly rate multiplied by one-and-a-half. Any hour or fraction of an hour of overtime, beyond four hours, should be paid for at the hourly rate multiplied by two.
3. Opt outs from the Working Time Regulations must be handled responsibly
Where staff have opted out of the 48 hour week, they should be free to opt back in without suffering a detriment and without unreasonable delay.
4. Caring responsibilities must be respected
Many talented artists and staff in VFX have children and other dependents. The right to flexible working to meet responsibilities with regards to care must therefore be acknowledged, promoted and respected to ensure that VFX doesn’t lose out on talent due to poor people management.
5. Statutory rights to daily rest breaks must be met
The Working Time Regulations state that all workers are entitled to a rest break of at least 11 hours in every period of 24 hours i.e. at least 11 hours from the end of one shift to the start of the next. An employer cannot ask staff to opt out of this as it is a basic health and safety provision.
6. Statutory rights to weekly rest breaks must be met
The Working Time Regulations state that workers are entitled to one rest day (24 hours plus the 11 hours daily break) in every 7 days; OR at least two consecutive rest days (48 hours plus 11 hours) in every 14 days. This means that staff should never be required to work on more than 12 consecutive days. An employer cannot ask staff to opt out of this as it is a basic health and safety provision.
7. Night workers must be cared for properly
The Working Time Regulations state that, if staff work at least three hours between 11pm and 6am on most working days, they are considered a night worker. Night workers must not be asked to work more than an average of 8 hours per day
8. The right to representation and advice must be respected
Staff have statutory rights to be a member of a relevant union and to be represented collectively and individually at work. If a company punishes staff for being a member of a union, they are breaking the law.