I am looking for work in the entertainment / modelling sectors – can I be charged a fee by my agency?

There are some special rules covering agencies that operate in the entertainment and modelling sectors.

Generally, employment agencies are prevented from charging agency workers fees for finding them work. However, there are limited exceptions to this rule that apply in the entertainment sector. Employment agencies can charge you a fee when looking for entertainment or modelling work where:

  • they take commission or fees from earnings from work they have found for you; or
  • they include your details in a publication or on a website.

An agency can charge you a fee where you agree to pay for your details to be included in a publication or website and you are seeking work as an actor, background artist, dancer, extra, musician, singer or other performer. They cannot charge an upfront fee for including your details in a publication or website where you are seeking work as a photographic or fashion model.

Agencies can only deduct a fee from earnings from work they found for you if they have set out details of the fee and services in writing previously. They must inform you about your right to a cooling-off period when you enter a contract where upfront fees are charged.

'Cooling-off' period

If you do agree to pay a fee for your details to be included in a publication or on a website, under the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 you are given time to reconsider and change your mind:

  • The agency must wait 30 days from the date you agreed to pay the fee, before taking any money from you. During this 30-day period, you have the right to end the contract.
  • You must be shown the information about you that will be included in the publication / website and you have seven days to object to it.
  • You cannot be charged until the seven days have passed, even if the 30-day cooling-off period has expired.
  • If your agency fails to publish your details and make these available to potential hirers within 60 days of taking payment of an upfront fee from you, you are entitled to a refund.
  • If your agency offers to provide you with additional photographic or audiovisual services, you also have a 30-day cooling-off period.

If you are looking for work in the creative/entertainment/modelling sector, and are not yet a member of a trade union, you should think about joining a union for help and support. There are several specialist unions operating in this field, such as Equity, the trade union for workers in the creative industry, including fashion models, the Musician's Union and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. You can find more information about joining a trade union on our Union Finder tool.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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