Should I be Paid?
Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:38 PM
I'm the technical manager at my school so am in charge of sound/lighting/video etc.
I'm responsible for the maintenance of the current equipment and for specifying new equipment etc.
The dependence on my skills is relatively great.
My question is as the skills I offer are valuable to the school am I legally entitled to minimum wage?
Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:42 PM
You're a student of the school, enjoy doing lighting, keep things realistic and if it gets too much stop. That's the beauty of not being paid!
Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:45 PM
If, however, you're a student who has adopted the moniker, then I hate to break it to you, but you're not "responsible" for anything. At the end of the day, no matter how much power you think you wield, the buck stops with your teachers and/or technicians. I think that payment is very unlikely to be forthcoming.
Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:52 PM
To what extent do you/can you maintain the equipment. are you giving lanterns a quick wipe over or stripping them down rewiring and PATing them? Do you do this on your own or under staff supervision?
Whatever your level of skill I doubt you would be regarded as a 'competent person'
My advice is to stop a lot of what you are doing. You can't force them to pay you and why should they if you do it for nothing? What they should do is either have amember of staff doing this or an external contractor.
Sorry if that sounds negative but you need to think about your own protection if something happened
PS Note to schools: Stop telling your students they are the Technical Manger/Director/whatever. It's meaningless in your situation. Start taking some responsibility yourselves
Posted 20 October 2011 - 08:02 PM
If you can't do these things then you are not a technical manager. Lots of members here keep going back to their old school to help out - very few get paid, because it's voluntary not a job!
Posted 20 October 2011 - 08:18 PM
You're a student involved in an educational activity. Should the school band get paid like professional musicians? Of course not. The same concept applies to you.
On the bright side, stick with it, and eventually the skills you're currently acquiring will be worth paying for.
The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. The Blue Room is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
"You put money in, you see, and opera comes out."
Posted 20 October 2011 - 08:33 PM
As an ex- school stage technician myself (ie; employed by the local education authority, as a responsible adult), I understand your situation. I too, was "in charge" of setting up the microphones, sorting out which lights worked and which didn't ready for any shows, and general backstage duties when I was at school. Was I actually "responsible" for anything in the legal sense of the word? NO!
Your realistic title would be something like, "keen and helpful student wanting to expand his knowledge and experience in technical theatre, by helping organise sound and lighting whenever required, identifying faulty equipment and making shopping lists of wanted gear", but it's a bit long-winded! As a student, it is extremely unlikely that the LEA will even allow you to be officially employed. As a "Technical Manager", you would have to be involved in staff-governor meetings concerning any technical aspect of the stage, have technical qualifications and/or considerable experience and knowledge, and be properly insured under the school's or LEA's public liability insurance.
If you are unsure about your role, or what you are permitted/insured to do, ask! The negative-sounding replies to your initial question are simply precautionary, because if you aren't insured and you were the last person to work on something before it causes an accident, fire or even just nuisance tripping of the RCD, all fingers will be pointed at you. Do you have a spare £10million to rebuild the school hall? Even experts make mistakes or cut corners - just lookup "dodgy technicians" on Google! But the difference is, they are insured when things do go wrong.
When I was your age I was also helping out at the local am-dram society, where I pretty much was the "Maintenance Manager", but we understood that as volunteers, we didn't have official titles, because there was no pay! However, of my friends in the technical team, several of them are now well-paid professionals in their field! I wouldn't have got my first job in the business had I not had the experience of working voluntarily at the local theatre for 10 years. And I wouldn't have got to work on a world cruise had I not had that first job! Neither would my friend who hires himself out to TV companies as a console operator at £350 a day! ...another friend (and BR member) who has worked all over the world as a lighting and robotics operator... You will find that the old adage, "From small acorns, mighty oaks grow" is very true in this industry when it comes to jobs and experience.
Accept you are a volunteer - a very helpful, keen and able one, maybe - and stick with it. This free work now will be paid for in the future.
Besides, in the real world, the manager is normally the one sat at a desk drinking coffee, and the assistants / slaves are the ones actually doing the hard work!
Posted 20 October 2011 - 08:45 PM
I understand where you are all coming from and feel that I understand my situation.
I personally have always done it as a voluntary activity but after getting involved in a local am-dram the professional technician who works with them said it's illegal for me to work for school for free but I now feel that it is a mis-understanding on his behalf.
Posted 20 October 2011 - 09:07 PM
If he says this again, ask him under which Parliamentary Act it is forbidden for a 16 year old student to voluntary assist in the technical operation of a school stage!
It might be "illegal" if the school demanded that you work certain days or hours. It might be illegal if they asked you to do something that was 'unsafe' or you had inadequate knowledge or training in (eg; hard wire the dimmers to the fuse board; install an extra lighting bar...)
Posted 21 October 2011 - 03:51 AM
"That's illegal" and "That's against health & safety" are two statement where, unless the speaker can clarify them, are often the mark of someone who has no idea what they're talking about!
Posted 21 October 2011 - 06:42 AM
Seriously though, there has been much discussion in the Stage recently because the Actor's Union, Equity don't seem that concerned about actors working for free - There's an activist called Clive Hurst who constantly tries to get this kind of thing stopped - but he gets little support. There is the same thing going on with technicians with slightly better success - but in our industry, it's clear plenty of people like to do this kind of thing for free - especially if it's essentially a hobby and they have a 'proper' job. Others who rely on income from our industry disagree strongly.
On this forum, the mods have to police the jobs section, often having to ask posters to provide the reason a job is unpaid. The National Minimum Wage refers to proper jobs. Nobody is quite certain what actually constitutes a proper job. In a way, I tend to feel that it's perhaps the responsibility content that decides it for me. If somebody is helpful,keen, willing and reliable, is that enough? I don't think so. Being able to say to someone, you must be here early tomorrow, and work late because Jim's ill and them saying they can't and then listing lots of sensible reasons to me would tag them as volunteers. I can't make them, so can I really rely on them? Obviously a paid employee (or casual} could also say no - but if they stuck to their guns, would that change my view of them, and possibly make me less likely to use them? Depending on the excuse/reason, I suspect it would. Having said that, I'm also very keen to get pay for those that deserve it.
Schools are different. My first college students are all over this area, often working as teachers in schools and colleges, and wherever I can, I go in to help if they ask. I played in the band for one recently, for free - three full days and two evenings. No pay available because that's how it works. I think that's what happened here. We're helping them out. It's not work, and there's no pay. As a guest of the school, their insurance extends to cover you, because you sign in as a visitor, and become their responsibility - so forget all the insurance elements - just enjoy the experience, and forget all ideas of 'status'. This, I suspect is what younger people really care about. They're glad to leave school, or be about to leave school and want the extra pip on their shoulder that a title seems to generate.
In my Company Manager role, you might have to fire somebody (which is never nice) but as the most senior person, it's part of the job because like Captain Picard, you have the most dots on the collar - BUT - this also means that it may well have to be you who pokes sick down the plughole and clears it with a bit of wire - because everybody else has more important things to do - or simply says "not my job". I don't blame them it isn't! However, at the end of the day, somebody has to do it - and you get the rotten jobs too. It's also me who has to do many very menial tasks for the very same reason. Responsibility. If there is no responsibility at all, then you're not working, you're having fun.
Posted 21 October 2011 - 06:56 AM
However, to play devil's advocate, there are quite a few schools out there who abuse the enthusiasm of their students. I'll mention my son's former school for example (he's now nearing 30 and gainfully employed). However, when in the sixth form, the school he attended did private hires of their theatre (a fairly well equipped 380-seater). They absolutely depended on their teenage technicians to spend a lot of time preparing the theatre for these outside hires and, frequently, come in and actually operate shows. Although the school was charging a fair bit for venue hire, the students were NOT normally paid by the school for their time. I suppose this was on the borderline of "fair" because most of the money from the venue hire was ploughed into the theatre, giving the technical enthusiasts new "toys" to service their interests.
However, I "had words" with the Head of Drama at the school on more than one occasion when, for whatever reason, the volunteer students did not or could not work on a show. There was a lot of pressure put on the "volunteers" to come in even if inconvenient--right to to implying that failing to work on a certain outside show might impact on their grades at the end of the year. To me, this went well beyond what was appropriate and I said so.
So...there can be two sides to every story.
Posted 21 October 2011 - 10:17 AM
having finished school in the summer I can say that whilst it may seem like you spend a lot of time with no recognition, the school probably to realise the effort you put in just may not be showing it. Remember you cannot expect to be payed, (you probably chose to help out in the first place). so whilst your skills may be very valuable to the school you don't have to do it, just do what you want to do, and get other people involved so when your gone then can still carry on, they will really appreciate this as it shows you are working in their best interests.
just make sure it doesn't become expected you'll do everything and just put in what you want to get out
Posted 21 October 2011 - 11:07 AM
Then I read you are 16 and a pupil at said school. How exactly did you expect to be paid? Does the school have a vacant post for "your" job activities, so to speak? No of course not; they won't employ a sixteen year old with no qualifications in a technical post. At sixteen you really don't have that much experience at all.
The reality Michael is that you have volunteered and your teachers have been very happy to allow you to get on with stuff they are neither interested in or qualified to do.
For example this maintenance; does this involve you dealing with anything in the way of an electrical nature? You certainly won't be qualified to touch anything electrical whatsoever. So are you supervised...by a qualified person?
Bottom line Michael is that you are being managed and it is keeping you occupied and out of mischief. I don't suppose your skills are particularly prized by the staff...it just saves them having to do it themselves does it not?
(T-I-c warning. Judging by your post you are undoubtedly some kind of agitator...and may have a career in a Union HQ as a Paid Officer.)
What you should be doing, and it could be a BR mantra by now...is to concentrate on your next two years in the sixth form and get some useful A levels. Not media studies or anything of that nature, but English, Math and Physics, say. Currently you are completely absorbed by the "theatre"...but getting a paid job in same is by no means a given.
Suggest you forget all this nonsense of being paid, just be glad you enjoyed the experience and now get on with your A levels.