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UK Screen Alliance Issues Post-Production and VFX Pandemic Safety Updates

Organization strengthens recommendations based on new government regulations issued in response to the more infectious coronavirus strain recently discovered in the UK.

The UK Screen AllianceGuidance for Safe Working in Post-Production & VFX during the Covid-19 Pandemic” has been strengthened to account for new government regulations introduced in January 2021 to control a new and more infectious strain of the coronavirus.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden 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.

Examples of activities that cannot be reasonably performed at home (this list is not exhaustive)

  • Operations that require the use of specialized 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 specialized 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.

“The creative process is challenging when working remotely but it is not impossible,” explained UK Screen Alliance chief executive Neil Hatton. “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 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.

It was recently announced that community testing for COVID-19 of asymptomatic cases will be soon be available in England. Priority will be given to people needing to go to work. The notice came too late to include in the updated UK Screen guidance, but it may be incorporated into the guidance once the government has produced more details.

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

Source: UK Screen Alliance