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Contracts between engagers and workers

The Screen Industry Workers Act 2022 has introduced new rules for contracts between engagers and screen production workers.

Individual contracts between engagers and workers

Individual contracts between screen production workers and their engagers must be in writing.

Terms that must and must not be included

All individual contracts must contain the following:

  • a term requiring the worker and engager to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Human Rights Act 1993.
  • plain language explanations of:
    • how the worker can make a complaint about bullying, discrimination, or harassment, and how the engager will respond to the complaint. Individual contracts must also state that this complaint process will not prevent the worker from making a complaint about bullying, discrimination or harassment under any Act
    • the processes to resolve any dispute
  • in relation to termination of the individual contract:
    • a term stating whether parties need to give each other notice to terminate the contract, and if so, how much notice must be given
    • a term stating whether compensation is payable to a worker if the engager terminates the contract, and if so, what that compensation is.

Individual contracts must not include terms that are less favourable to the worker than those in any collective contract that applies to the worker. For more information, see:

Collective bargaining in the screen industry

Contracts made before the Screen Industry Workers Act came into force

  • Individual contracts made before 30 December 2022 have until 30 December 2023 before they must be amended to include the mandatory terms.
  • The exception is historic writers’ contracts, which do not need to be amended by 30 December 2023 to include the mandatory terms. Historic writers’ contracts are contracts made before 30 December 2017, which include intellectual property terms relating to a screen production.

Process for making or changing individual contracts

When making or changing an individual contract, an engager must follow this process:

  • Give the worker a copy of the proposed contract.
  • Tell the worker they can seek independent advice.
  • Give the worker reasonable opportunity to seek that advice.
  • Consider any issues raised by the worker and respond in good faith (see good faith and freedom of association below).

An engager cannot terminate or refuse to renew a worker’s contract in retaliation for the worker exercising a legal or contractual right, or for providing information about another worker’s bullying, discrimination or harassment complaint.

Failing to meet these obligations could result in a financial penalty. 

Duty of good faith and freedom of association

Engagers and screen production workers must act in good faith, meaning they must not mislead or deceive each other, or do anything that is likely to do so.

The Screen Industry Workers Act guarantees freedom of association for engagers and workers. This means:

  • Workers and engagers can freely choose whether to join, leave, or remain a member of a worker or engager organisation.
  • An engager or worker cannot be treated preferentially because they are (or are not) a member of an engager or worker organisation.
  • Nobody can exert undue influence on a worker about their membership of a worker organisation, participation in collective bargaining, or coverage by an enterprise contract.
  • Nobody can exert undue influence on a person who is acting on behalf of a screen production worker.

Worker and engager organisations represent the working interests of workers or engagers respectively. Examples include guilds and unions.

Anybody who breaches the Act’s duty of good faith, or freedom of association protections, could face a financial penalty.

Related information

What work is covered by the Screen Industry Workers Act

Collective bargaining in the screen industry

Resolving disputes in the screen industry

Workplace access in the screen industry

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Page last revised: 16 December 2022

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