Artists fall within the general body of case law in this area.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related legislation places duties on employers, self-employed persons and those in charge of premises. Employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees without exposing others to risks. Employers have a responsibility to work carefully and comply with their legal duties. Self-employed people have duties to ensure they undertake their work safely and their activities do not pose risks to themselves or others, while those in charge of cultural venues have to ensure those engaged on the premises, but not employed by them, can operate in a safe environment. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has produced safety guidelines specific to sectors such as theatre, and guidance is also available from the Association of British Theatre Technicians. A viola player who suffered permanent loss of hearing after sitting in front of the brass section in the orchestra pit of the Royal Opera House during Wagner’s Ring Cycle in 2012 was successful in his subsequent legal action against the Royal Opera House for this ending his professional career. Judges found that the Opera House was in breach of the Control of Noise at Work Regulation 2005 and, in 2017, dismissed claims by the Association of British Orchestras and Society of London Theatre that the earlier ruling threatened not only the Royal Opera House repertoire but also music making generally.
Since 2018 all employers have been required to have work-based pension schemes and to contribute a minimum of 2%, which was increased to 3% in April 2019 (employees must contribute at least 5% now). Consequently, the new rules obliged smaller cultural organisations to introduce pension schemes which previously many had not provided.
Under the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, a licence must be obtained before a child can take part in certain types of performances and activities in England and Wales. The Children Performances and Activities (England) Regulations 2014 streamlined and simplified the regulations governing the obligations of those presenting performances with children (e.g. live theatre productions where a charge for admission is made or where a ticket is sold, live broadcasts including internet streaming, recorded performances for film or sound, sport events and modelling etc.) Similar regulations were agreed for Wales in 2015.
The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to discriminate, directly or indirectly, in employment on grounds of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientations, gender reassignment, religion or belief. Every company must have an equal opportunities policy.
As a result of an employment tribunal ruling in 2019, self-employed music teachers working in schools are expected to be treated like other workers and thus benefit from minimum wage guarantees, holiday pay and other employment benefits (see also chapter 5.2.). In another employment tribunal decision in 2019 arts educators working at the National Gallery in London were adjudged to be workers and not self-employed as the Gallery had contended. This followed a decision by the Gallery to cancel prevailing agreements with the educators and invite them to apply for new contracts that were considered to be less beneficial by the educators. The Gallery is considering the implications of the decision.
According to a survey of Arts Pay 2018 conducted by Arts Professional, the sector is characterised by long unpaid hours. Workers on temporary and freelance contracts appear to be worst affected, but senior staff in small cultural organisations are also adversely affected according to the same research. Inevitably, this has raised questions about the sustainability of careers in the arts, especially for employees with domestic and other commitments. Moreover, with budgets tighter due to austerity, some organisations have been filling vacancies for permanent staff with freelance workers, interns or volunteers. A report from the Sutton Trust in 2018 revealed the 86% of internships were unpaid (see chapter 5.5.)