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Equity & contracts

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Hi everyone,


I've been flicking through the Equity website just having a look as part of my careers research.


I understand all the minimum payments etc for particular jobs and hours. However, what I haven't found too clear is whether Theatre's have to follow these or not.


For example, if I was an Equity member, and a Theatre didn't want to pay me the minimum rate prescribed by Equity, are they lawfully obliged too, or do they just not hire me in the first place/turn down my job application?


Also, are there Theatre's where they say you have to be a member of Equity, or another Union? I can't see why they would be as if someone isn't a member, then in theory they don't have to pay them as much, as long as they are still paid minimum wage.


I hope someone can clear this up for me!!


Thanks a lot, any other information you can offer on the subject is very welcome!!!



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The Equity minimums are simply guidelines, and have no standing at all in law. You're a little unclear on how things work regarding the theatres. In most cases, actors don't work for the theatre, they work for a production company. Sometimes this production company is based at the theatre. Producing houses are not as common as receiving houses - these ones simply booking in shows, having nothing at all to do with pay.


The Equity figures you have seen are not just minimum pay, but are terms and conditions too. So, somebody signing an Equity contract will have standard terms agreed by both parties. Not all production companies pay the rates Equity would like. Some are 'young' companies, and maybe the possibility of generating enough income is a bit unlikely. In these cases, the artistes may be engaged on worse terms, but that's a choice. Often, because pay tends to be a figure for the job, it isn't really easy to produce an hourly rate, as the actual hours required are very flexible. Sometimes the pay and conditions, or even the reputation are so bad that Equity publish them in a list - telling their members to contact their office first. As an example, totally daft weekly pay, awful working conditions and long hours would worry them. Trouble is, there will always be people keen to work, even at these daft rates. Not uncommon in things like circus - where maybe as a dancer, you live in a caravan, get one pair of dance tights a month, have to work the box office and help put the tent up!


Some production companies pay equity rates, and have similar contracts, but are not Equity contracts. In essence, you go to the audition, and if they are paying poor rates, it's your choice.

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