Empowering the Freelance Economy

New rate card Puts Stop To freelancer Exploitation

Photo source: Bectu
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Bectu, the trade union for TV and film workers, including thousands of freelancers, has published rate guidance for members in unscripted television. The move is unprecedented as the first reference point for members and employers in the film and TV industry.


Freelancers working in editorial and production streams of television in roles ranging from production managers to casting directors need standardised rates that will remove the potential for negotiation and exploitation and contribute to a much fairer working environment, Bectu has reported.

The rate guidance is different to a traditional rate card. It gives freelancers the confidence to know what rates fellow workers are achieving. This will empower them when negotiating future deals.


The Unscripted TV Union (UTVU) ensured that the rates disclosed were as accurate as possible by surveying thousands of freelancers. The data came from over 3000 responses from The Television Freelancers Taskforce and The Time Project, an initiative that allows users to log their hours worked and anonymously compare their rates with people across the industry working in similar roles. A group of experienced line producers also fed into the findings.

Data analysis presented a baseline rate and an additional £65 per week for every year of experience in the role. This figure corresponded with the average increase of a freelancer’s wage and data found through the task force, and is based on a fair working week of 37.5 hours.

Bectu said in a statement:

“Offering a standardised rate for unscripted employees and freelancers will help our members to be paid fairly and help ensure that their skills and experience are valued by employers. We encourage members to sign up to The Time Project to anonymously submit their rate data, so that future rate guides can be increased.”

The rate card guidance link can be found here.

Louise Patel, Co-Director of Share My Telly Job, a job sharing community for freelancers, said that the new Bectu rate guidance is a major step towards equality in the industry.

“We hope and trust that employers will embrace and respect the new rates guidance. Paying people fairly and without argument for the talent they bring to productions creates a sense of value and commitment, it removes bias and is directly linked to a company’s success,” said Patel.

James Taylor, Chair of the UTVU said attempts for such rate cards have been unsuccessful up until now due to the layers of complication of years’ experience and role differences:

“Pulling together a comprehensive and meaningful rate guide for Unscripted TV roles has in the past been a bit like peeling an onion, the further you get, the more layers of complication are uncovered, and ultimately it makes you want to cry.

“So to finally have a guide that takes into account the many different job roles, and the differing years of experience people have is a big step. It will give thousands of freelancers confidence when negotiating their rates that they are being compensated fairly, which is ultimately all everyone wants.”

What is Bectu?

Bectu is a trade union that represent workers in television and film, in London and across Great Britain. Its members work in roles such as producers, directors, editors, camera operators, riggers and runners, and in departments such as costume, hair and make-up, art department, locations and props. Bectu is the largest union at the BBC, representing members across BBC, BBC Studioworks Limited, BBC Worldwide and BBC Contractors.

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1 Comment
  1. Terry Grundig says

    I’m a director in my 50’s, which puts me into a tiny minority statistic. It has become impossible for me to get work anymore despite twenty years of high level experience. Every job I apply for has a long paragraph about what an equal opportunity employer they are, however this doesn’t seem to apply if you are white, male and middle aged. Positive discrimination has become the norm, and it is as drenched in prejudice as any perceived in the past.
    I also think that charging £65 per week, per year of experience is a massive own goal. For my 20 years I can be expected to charge an additional £1300 per week. That is brilliant. But if I was an employer, I would go for someone half as experienced and far less expensive, and that it what they do! Who thought that one up?

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