Entertainment and modelling work

A common way for would-be models or entertainers to find work is through agencies. A lot of agencies are legitimate and professional, but some may try to take advantage. Find out more about the rules that apply to these agencies.

Rules covering photographic and fashion models

An agency finding you work as a photographic and/or fashion model is banned from charging you an upfront fee for including your details in a publication or on a website.

Fees may be charged for photographic and audio visual services when these are provided as an additional service but you are entitled to a 30-day cooling off period if you are asked for this type of fee - see rules on cooling off periods below.

When fees can be charged

Employment agencies can charge you a fee when looking for entertainment or modelling work under two circumstances:

  • commission or fees from earnings from work the agency found for you in entertainment or modelling
  • a fee for including your details in a publication or on a website if you're an actor, background artist, dancer, extra, musician, singer or other performer, but not if you're looking for work as a photographic or fashion model

An agency can only deduct sums from your earnings for work the agency found for you if they have set out the details of the fee and services in writing.

If you agree to pay a fee

If the agency is finding you work as an actor, background artist, dancer, extra, musician, singer or other performer and you agree to pay to be included in a publication or website:

  • the agency can't take any money from you for 30 days from entering into an agreement
  • you will have the right during this 30 day period to withdraw from the contract
  • the agency must show you what will be published and you'll have seven days to object
  • you can't be charged until this seven day period has elapsed or any reasonable objections have been dealt with (even if the 30 day cooling off period has elapsed)
  • if you're charged an upfront fee you have the right to a refund if your information is not published and made available to potential hirers, within 60 days of you making the payment

Your agency must tell you about all of these requirements in writing when you enter into a contract where upfront fees are charged.

In addition, if your agency offers to provide you with photographic or audio visual services, as an additional service, you will be entitled to a 30 day cooling off period.

Cooling off periods

An agency may produce a publication or website containing your details. If the agency charges you a fee to include your details it has to give you a 30-day cooling off period from entering into an agreement.

During this time you can withdraw from the contract. The agency can't charge you any fee until the cooling off period has passed.

Your agency must notify you of this cooling off period in writing when you enter into a contract for these services.

For actors, background artists, dancers, extras, musicians, singers or other performers the following cooling off periods apply:

  • 30 days before you can be charged an upfront fee to be included in a publication or on a website
  • seven days to object to any information or profile which will be included in a publication - starting on the date when you are first shown it
  • 60 days from the date of payment, a full refund if no publication is produced and made available to hirers

For agency workers involved in those occupations related to behind-the-scenes work (such as production staff, camera operator), the cooling off period before you can be charged an upfront fee for inclusion in a publication is seven days.

In addition, if your agency offers to provide you with photographic or audio visual services, as an additional service, you are entitled to a 30 day cooling off period.

Written terms 

Your agency must provide you with written terms before providing any work-finding services. These should include:

  • how it will find you work
  • situations where it is entitled to enter into a contract on your behalf
  • payment and fee details
  • your notice period

Collecting pay from a hirer

If you have agreed in your written terms with your agency that they may receive your pay from a hirer, the agency must pass your pay to you within ten days of receiving it. You can request to extend this time if you would prefer.

Agencies that request or receive money on your behalf must set up separate client accounts to bank that money.

Where to get help

The Department for the Economy's Employment Agency Inspectorate (EAI) investigates complaints about employment agencies or businesses.

If you have a problem with an employment agency, you can contact the EAI or use the form at the link below to make a complaint.

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues.

If you are a member of a trade union you can get help, advice and support from them.

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