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Entertainment and modelling agencies receive most worker complaints

The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate investigated 240 complaints from those working in the modelling and entertainment industries. Photo: Paolo Bona/Shutterstock The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate investigated 240 complaints from those working in the modelling and entertainment industries. Photo: Paolo Bona/Shutterstock
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Modelling and entertainment agencies received the most complaints from workers of any sector last year, a new government report has revealed.

The information was released by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), a government division that enforces workers’ rights, in its annual report.

Of the total number of complaints and targeted visits that EAS conducted during 2016-17, the entertainment and modelling sector accounted for 19%, with EAS investigating about 240 cases. Entertainment includes people working as actors and extras.

During the previous year, 2015-16, modelling and entertainment also accounted for 19% of all complaints.

Other sectors covered in the report included healthcare, construction, drivers, nannies and domestic workers, and teachers.

The majority of workers’ rights infringements related to employers not sticking to terms they had issued to temporary workers in their contracts.

Cases included websites advertising jobs in the entertainment sector and charging fees to work-seekers to access information, employment businesses withholding wages from its temporary workers and entertainment or modelling agencies failing to pass money to workers.

A number of the cases were instigated by a social media campaign encouraging employees to contact EAS about websites offering work opportunities in the entertainment sector, but that may have been operating illegally by, for example, charging fees when there was no regulatory permission to do so.

EAS also received 42 referrals where individuals had paid fees to photographic studios and were seeking refunds. However, as it does not regulate photographic studios, the complaints were referred to Trading Standards or Action Fraud.

A spokesman for Equity said: “Equity is concerned to note the proportion of complaints received by EAS that are attributed to the entertainment and modelling sector.

“Any Equity member with concerns over the business practices of their agent should contact the union in confidence. Performers and models should also remember that they are hiring the agent to work for them to find them employment, and it is not the agent who is hiring them.”

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson said: “Our number one priority is to ensure workers get the wages they are owed and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate follows up every relevant complaint about agencies’ conduct. Last year it investigated about 240 cases in the modelling and entertainment sector.”

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