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Legal Eagle


D Michael Rose

Q: What charges can an agent make?

What legal right does an agency have to charge me expenses such as registration and administration fees when it has not found me any work?

A: The basic rule is that it is a criminal offence for any employment agency to demand- or "directly or indirectly" receive from any person any fee for finding him employment or seeking to find him employment. However, there are certain limited exceptions, namely in the case of au, pairs and certain occupations in the entertainment industry.

The specific occupations in the entertainment industry for which the making of such a charge is permitted are actors, singers, musicians, dancers and other performers, composers, directors, assistant directors, production managers, assistant production managers, lighting cameramen, camera operators, make-up artists, film editors, action arrangers and coordinators, costume and production designers, recording engineers, hairdressers, property masters, film continuity personnel, sound mixers and still photographers and photographic and fashion models. If you do not fall within one of those descriptions then the charging of such a fee is illegal.

Calling it a "registration or administration fee" is in my view "indirectly" the same thing in disguise and equally illegal. In any event there is a statutory obligation on an agency which is entitled to charge a fee other than for finding or seeking to find employment to send the client in advance a written statement setting out the amount of the fee and the service to which is to be charged.

First published September 1995