Post and vfx trade body, UK Screen Alliance, has strengthened its Covid-19 guidance on client attendance at post houses.

The ‘UK Screen Alliance Guidance for Safe Working in Post-Production & VFX’ during the Covid-19 Pandemic has been strengthened to account for new government regulations introduced earlier this month to control the new and more infectious strain of the coronavirus.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has confirmed that TV and Film production can continue, however, the new restrictions which now have legal force, require people to only leave their homes if they have “reasonable excuse”, under possible penalty of a fine starting at £200 and rising to £6,400 for repeat offenses.

People should go to work in sectors that are open if work cannot reasonably be performed at home. Given that many post-production activities can be done remotely, UK Screen Alliance is advising employers to determine on a case-by-case basis if on-premises working is justified and therefore that post-production workers have “reasonable excuse” to leave their homes.

Production company clients are also being asked to consider whether their attendance at a post-production or VFX company’s premises constitutes a “reasonable excuse” to leave their home if remote working and viewing is available as a viable alternative.

The definition of what constitutes work that is “unreasonable” to perform at home is currently only broadly defined by government guidance and law. The new UK Screen guidance includes example scenarios which might not reasonably be performed at home but advises employers to take their own legal advice before relying on them.

UK Screen Alliance advises that inconvenient, slower, or more costly modes of working when at home should not generally be considered grounds for needing to work on-premises at a post house. There should be reasonable impracticality in remote working before on-premises working at a post company can be justified in the current circumstances.

UK Screen Alliance has pubished  a non-exhaustive list of tasks that cannot reasonably be performed from home.

  • Operations that require the use of specialised environments, which cannot easily or inexpensively be provided in a home setting, and/or use highly calibrated audio-visual equipment to provide critical appraisal of sound or picture quality.
  • Operations that require the use of specialised equipment to process or transfer film or legacy videotape media.
  • Operations that require reliable high bandwidth internet connections that are beyond available domestic broadband provision or are contended by other household users.
  • Operations that are “quick turn round” services close to transmission or release deadlines, where the risk of disruption from remote working could impact on the deliverability of the production at a critical or unforgiving moment.
  • Operations that require enhanced confidentiality measures for sensitive media content which cannot easily be provided in a domestic setting shared with other people not connected to the production.
  • Operations that cannot be performed at an individual’s home setting because of unsuitable available space, or circumstances giving rise to, or subject to, unacceptable levels of household disruption.
  • Maintenance operations that require physical access to on-premises workstations and other IT infrastructure to keep remote operations functioning.

The new guidance document also includes a template letter that can be given to post-production workers to convey their employer’s assessment that there is reasonable need to attend the workplace. This letter could be used in the event of an employee being challenged by the police for a valid reason why they are not at home.

Neil Hatton, chief executive of UK Screen Alliance said, “The creative process is challenging when working remotely but it is not impossible. To keep everyone safe in these exceptionally difficult times, all options for remote working should be explored before resorting to on-premises working. This needs to be incorporated into the formal risk assessment process which employers should be keeping under constant review.”

The Guidance also recommends that in the exceptional circumstances when on-premises viewings can be justified, that creative operators and their clients should occupy separate rooms. UK Screen feels that an additional charge for use of these extra facilities is justifiable.

This weekend’s announcement that community testing for Covid-19 of asymptomatic cases, prioritising people needing to go to work, will be available in England soon, came too late to feature in this update of the UK Screen guidance but Hatton says it may be incorporated into the guidance once the government has produced more details on how it can be actioned.

The UK Screen Covid-19 Guidance for Post & VFX can be downloaded here:

https://www.ukscreenalliance.co.uk/campaigns/guida…

Jon Creamer