Cinemas: employment law & 2017

22 March 2017

With 2017 already busy for UK senior management and HR teams, and with more employment-related changes and updates anticipated, Fladgate employment associate, Caroline Philipps, discusses four topics likely to be most relevant to Cinema.

Pay equality

One of the most anticipated developments in Employment Law in 2017 is the long-awaited introduction of gender pay-gap reporting. The first ‘reference date’ on which affected employers must take snapshots of their pay data is set for 5 April, so it is critical to identify now what mean and median figures need to be calculated, as well as how. Broadly speaking, employers affected – those with 250 or more employees – will need to publish overall gender pay-gap figures on salaries, together with data on the proportion of male and female employees receiving bonuses and on the amount of bonus payments made. The first reporting deadline is 4 April 2018.

It is recommended that relevant employers should already be undertaking a dry-run calculation of pay-by-gender ahead of the first reference date, as this may help identify any gap that currently exists and thus enable employers to address it whilst there is still time.

Shared parental leave

It’s been well over 18 months since shared parental leave was introduced in April 2015. Reports suggest take-up to be low, with as few as 4% of eligible parents taking advantage of the new family-friendly regime. There is little data to help determine why this might be; however, the lack of interest may be due to a failure by employers to enhance shared parental pay (ShPP) to the level of enhanced maternity pay. It’ll be interesting to see whether there is any test-case litigation shortly on whether any such differences are discriminatory.

Employment status

Considerable publicity surrounded the recent case in which two Uber drivers successfully challenged Uber’s position that its drivers are self-employed contractors. In a judgment that was highly critical of Uber, an Employment Tribunal (ET) held that the claimants were workers ITAL and thus entitled to the national minimum wage, paid annual leave and whistleblower protection – none of which would be available to genuinely self-employed contractors.

Uber contracts some 40,000 drivers and the decision could have a significant adverse financial impact on its business model.

Whilst this type of employment arrangement is less common in the cinema industry, the decision remains relevant to any employer engaging self-employed contractors. Often cleaners, and others, that provide similar outsourced services will be treated as contractors or consultants. The ET identified that Uber maintained high levels of control over its drivers. Employers should therefore be alert to how their working arrangements with self-employed contractors are managed in practice as it will be key to determining employment status.


No speculation on the year ahead could be complete without at least some reference to Brexit. Triggering Article 50 could set in motion the biggest legislative shake-up the country has ever witnessed. The British film industry has made clear its concern that leaving the EU may cause a reduction in European funding in relation to co-production which, in turn, may impact the influence of our industry on the films being screened in UK cinemas. However, it‘s unlikely Brexit will have such an immediate impact on the employment laws that influence the day-to-day running of those cinemas.

In practice, too, a wholesale repeal of European-derived employment legislation looks unlikely since many of the employment-related protections afforded by EU regulations and directives either already existed in domestic law or have been implemented above and beyond the minimum EU standard e.g. protection from discrimination and minimum annual leave entitlements.

Perhaps the most pressing issue cinema industry employers will need to consider is the possible reduction in the pool of workers available resulting from any change in the freedom of movement of people.

This article was first published in ScreenTrade in March 2017.

Caroline Philipps Author
Caroline Philipps
Senior Associate
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