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BECTU and Fringe Society publish code of conduct for Edinburgh employers

Entertainment union BECTU has released a code of conduct for employers at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The code has been developed through negotiations with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society and follows a survey that revealed a third of workers [1] at the festival are unpaid.

The union and the Fringe Society published joint guidelines two years ago [2], which called on employers to pay the ‘real living wage’, however the new code of conduct covers a number of additional areas.

These include hours of work, pay rates, scheduling of work and health and safety.

Points include:

• Ensuring there is a clear written agreement between employer and worker
• Workers should have access to a weekly schedule of work hours
• Records should be kept of actual hours worked
• Employers should be clear on exactly how much workers are being paid and what the payment applies to, especially in buy-out contracts
• Where accommodation is provided, employers should clearly state the type and condition as well as the facilities included

Paul McManus, BECTU’s negotiations officer for Scotland, said: “Every year I receive a variety of queries, concerns and complaints from members arriving in Edinburgh to work during the fringe and we have even pursued legal action against employers on various issues, but these are all on an individual basis.

“Equally, anonymous surveys may well highlight the problems but in an employment environment the only way to make real improvements is for the workers to come together with BECTU to tackle any problems on a collective basis, directly with the employers concerned.”

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “We believe that adopting the highest possible employment standards is both morally and economically beneficial for everyone involved in the Fringe and for the city of Edinburgh as a whole.

“The Guidance on Good Employment document is designed to support the development of best practice at the Fringe and ensure that everyone’s experience at the festival is as positive as it can be.”

Further meetings will take place between BECTU officials and the Fringe Society once this year’s festival has finished, in which concerns that have been raised by workers will continue to be discussed.