New regulations for performer, sport and model agencies

New regulations for the conduct of employment agencies and employment businesses have recently been published as Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 3319.  All but two of the regulations come into force on 6 April 2004 and the remaining two in July 2004.

A key feature is that the regulations preserve a previous exemption by which agencies may charge fees to the work seekers they represent but only if the occupation is one listed in Schedule 3 which now extends to any:

  • Actor, musician, singer, dancer, or other performer;
  • Composer, writer, artist, director, production manager, lighting cameraman, camera operator, make up artist, film editor, action arranger or co-ordinator, stunt arranger, costume or production designer, recording engineer, property master, film continuity person, sound mixer, photographer, stage manager, producer, choreographer, theatre designer;
  • Photographic or fashion model;
  • Professional sports person.

The regulations set out in great detail the obligations on agents and employment businesses in conducting business with and on behalf of work seekers. The amount of paperwork is bound to increase. There may be few fundamental changes for the well-run agencies but even they will need to revise existing documents and procedures.

The regulations are introduced at a time when commercial pressure on specialist agencies is increasing. The bankruptcy filing by the large New York model agency Elite, though for a variety of reasons, signals a shift towards exclusive career management and away from pure modelling agency at least in relation to more successful models. In the music industry, while the new regulations will require agencies to take on more responsibilities to complete the required paperwork for presenting artists’ live appearances, personal management is already a separate and well established activity. Most exempted agencies are therefore not well placed to move into personal management, though the regulations may encourage such agencies to request periods of exclusivity from their clients.

Standard appointment letters will no doubt have to be formulated or revised for use by agencies with their work seeker clients and with hirers. Bigger agencies will need to use their own individual versions to reflect specific commercial terms. The increased burden of regulation will add a real difficulty for smaller and less well established agencies.

Bulletins are for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are those reported as found by the Court. Please note that past bulletins included in the Archive have not been updated by any subsequent changes in statute or case law.