Screen Industry Workers Act

13 December 2022

The Screen Industry Workers Act (SIWA) will come into force on 30 December 2022.

In contrast to the Employment Relations Act 2000, SIWA provides a structure enabling workers who are contractors to bargain collectively. Further the description in the written document between the parties, whether contract for services or employment agreement, determines the nature of the relationship between the parties. Employees remain covered by the Employment Relations Act 2000.

Screen industry workers include composers, directors, game developers, performers, technicians (production and post-production) and writers, but does not include volunteers or those providing support services, such as accounting or administration services.  The Act does not apply to news and current affairs productions, live events, or sports productions.

In terms of collective bargaining there are two avenues available – Occupational collective contracts and Enterprise collective contracts. In similar fashion to Fair Pay Agreements, an initiation of bargaining for an occupational collective contract requires approval by the Employment Relations Authority before bargaining can proceed.  There is no such requirement to initiate bargaining for an enterprise contract. In contrast to an FPA, either a union or an engager (employer) organisation may initiate bargaining. 

There is a statutory obligation to deal in good faith, which is unusual in respect of commercial contracts.

There are mandatory terms regarding rates of pay, breaks, public holidays, hours of work, and availability, and expiry date. 

The agreement must also include a requirement to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Human Rights Act 1993, a process and support for dealing with bullying and harassment claims, a process for disputes resolution and a notice period. These points also apply to individual contracts.

Once bargaining starts, there is an obligation to conclude a collective contract.  There is no right to strike as in employee bargaining, but there are similar provisions as in the Employment Relations Act for mediation and facilitation.  In the end, the ERA may determine the unresolved issues by using a final offer arbitration process. That means each side puts up its best offer for settlement and then the ERA chooses which one it prefers.

Once an occupational collective contract is in place it sets the minimum standards for all contractors in the applicable occupation who are on individual contracts (but not employees).

Once SIWA is in force, all workers who are not employees, must be provided with a written individual contract.

Please call if you have any questions – Tony 021 920 323, Justine 021 920 410, Michelle 021 993 735