What is a freelance engagement?
'Freelance' is not a term that has a particular legal definition. Freelance engagements, as considered on this site, are contracts for services which do not attract tax on a PAYE basis and which do not give employee status. This means the individual is not eligible for 'staff' conditions on matters such as sick pay or maternity benefits.
In the BBC a freelancer typically:
- In a production context, works behind, rather than in front of, the camera or microphone (e.g. camera operator, make-up artist, production buyer).
- Is hired for specific jobs or projects on an ad hoc basis.
- Sells his/her services to other organisations in addition to the BBC.
- Manages his/her own tax affairs.
- Negotiates a rate for the job with his/her BBC contact.
- Invoices the BBC for work done.
- Supplies/brings his/her own tools of trade.
Information about front of camera/microphone engagements can be found in our Conflicts of Interest Guidelines.
How do I know if the work I am doing for the BBC qualifies as freelance?
Each engagement will be assessed on its own merit. It cannot be assumed that freelance status will be agreed. The nature of the work undertaken in each instance will dictate the relationship between the individual or service company and the BBC.
What kinds of work do freelancers do for the BBC?
There is an agreement in place between the BBC and HM Revenue and Customs on what production-type roles can be engaged on a freelance basis, and in what circumstances. These include Art Director, Associate Producer, Choreographer, Lighting Director, Production Manager, Camera Operator, Special Effects Designer.
These are examples of categories which may be considered as 'freelance' but as previously stated, the BBC will decide in each case, the nature of the contract between the individual or service company and the BBC.
What can a freelancer expect in terms of communications from the BBC?
If the contract is agreed on a freelance basis then on each engagement you will receive:
- A contract which will include BBC Terms & Conditions - one copy to be signed and returned, one copy to be retained.
- Notification of purchase order number, to be quoted on all invoices and correspondence - this may be sent separately.
Other documentation will be sent as necessary:
- Editorial guidelines
- A covering letter
- Declaration of Interest form
- Health & Safety procedures
- Data protection information
- Other localised information
- Equal Opportunities monitoring form
The major documents can be accessed on the Policies section of this site.
For information on the BBC's values, visit the About the BBC site.
The freelance engagement process in the BBC has two stages:
- Issuing of a contract & Purchase Order number
The initial contact with you will normally come from a representative of the BBC.
They will confirm the key pieces of information for the engagement:
- Dates and times
In addition they will also ask for, or check, key pieces of information that will help with both the contracting and the payment processes, including:
- Name and address.
- Service company and/or agent details, where appropriate.
- National Insurance number, this is required by HM Revenue and Customs.
- Bank account details. The BBC's method of payment is by BACS (electronic transfer directly into your bank account). Consequently, we need your bank sort code and account name and number.
- VAT number where appropriate.
Issuing of a contract and Purchase Order
- The contractual status of the engagement is checked by the BBC contract advisor.
- If the engagement is confirmed as a Freelance then two copies of the contract will be issued to you, both signed by a representative of the BBC.
- If necessary additional information and forms will be sent covering matters such as:
You should sign and return to the BBC, as instructed:
- One copy of the contract.
- Any of the additional documentation requested.
In addition to the contract a purchase order will be raised and sent to you, sometimes the Purchase Order is sent at the same time as the contract and at other times it will be issued after a signed contract has been returned to the BBC .
For all invoicing information see Getting paid.