Advice About Working Overseas
At EntsWeb we publicise a lot of jobs and auditions for overseas venues and agencies so I though it only right to put together some advice on what to look out for when considering these jobs.
The first thing to be aware of is that all jobs and auditions are listed free of charge and it is impossible for us to confirm their validity. The information is directly placed by the potential bookers and listed in good faith by us but it is your sole responsibility, when applying for any of these jobs, to check the terms, conditions and veracity of the offer. This applies not only to jobs found on EntsWeb but also anywhere else on the Internet.
I've had some really good times playing music all over world. I've met and made many new friends, explored different cultures and been given the opportunity to see and experience many things that have enriched my life, so in no way do I want to put you off taking contacts abroad. However I do want to make sure that you are armed with information that will help you pick the right jobs and contracts.
Facebook Community Help
We use Facebook and Twitter to spread the EntsWeb jobs and auditions to a wider audience. We also used the Facebook Discussion Boards app for a conversation offering help and guidance. The discussion grew and became more valuable as more people added to their own experiences and advice. However Facebook did one of their infamous paradigm shifts deciding they no longer wanted to support the discussion app. As a consequence of this, in the latter part of 2011, they closed down all discussion boards resulting in the loss of the data and the helpful comments that had built up.
With the loss of the discussion tab I'd now like to encourage people to add their work experiences and tips about working abroad directly to our Facebook group for entertainers and musicians. If you have anything you would like to share or questions you would like to ask then I'd be pleased for you to post your comments and questions to the Group. The group was set up in April 2017 and although we may not have all the answers to your questions, the community that is building up, may be able to help you. Conversely you may be able to offer advice to other members of the EntsWeb community. We also have a much longer established FaceBook Page you can use but the Group is the better option because it allows easier interaction. https://www.facebook.com/groups/entsweb.members/
Advice from Equity www.equity.org.uk
As well as encouraging community self-help I've taken it a step further and asked a representative from Equity www.equity.org.uk to give some pointers on working abroad. They were most helpful and here is what they had to say:
It is obviously important to have the full contract before agreeing to accept it rather than the promise of a contract when you arrive to do the work. On receipt of the contract it is worth speaking to Equity as they do have a list of employers / agents that they advise speaking to them about before accepting work as issues may have been raised in the past that the performer should be aware of. When looking at the contract the first thing to establish is who the employer is and their full contact address and details. The company's stability and reputation can be important so it is good to do as much research as possible online about the employer and the venues in which the performer will be working.
Other important factors to look at on the contract:-
- How much is the pay and when and how will it be paid? Check the exchange rate and note how much, if any, is paid in local currency and whether any is paid into your bank account in sterling. When the performer is actually working alarm bells should ring if the first due payment does not arrive as scheduled.
- Look at what the job requires the performer to do as well as the working hours, breaks, days off etc. as well as any 'house rules' that will be applicable to the performer.
- Look at what insurance cover is providedand whether the company's insurance would assist if you were ill / injured and needed to be flown home. If the company is not providing that then Equity would recommend purchasing an additional policy for working abroad. Equity's insurers, First Act, (020 8686 5050) do this cover as do other insurance companies. Although some insurance cover comes with Equity membership, it is not sufficient for working overseas say if the performer needs to be repatriated due to injury.
- Accommodation is normally provided with overseas work. Often the standard of this accommodation can be an issue and the performer should make enquiries as to what is being provided if the contract is not clear. If the name of a hotel is given it should be checked online if possible. The number of people sharing accommodation as well as deposits and utility bills frequently arises.
- Visas and work permits can also cause concern as these can cost money and take time to process. It should be clear who is paying for these and it is also worth checking online the actual cost and procedure if the company is arranging this for the performer and charging them.
- Passports: When starting work it is not advisable to part with your passport for any considerable length of time. The employer may need certain details but would not normally need to retain your passport beyond the first couple of days.
- How a contract can be terminated, by either the management or the performer is important. With some contracts the management has the option to extend and the performer has no choice but to go along with it. Sometimes a performers has to pay for a replacement if they want to leave early or there may be other deductions from pay. Often the contract will give the employer a right to terminate the contract with or without reason giving a certain amount of notice.
- Travel can also be an issue. Who pays for the flights and transfers etc. Sometimes the performer pays for their own flights and is reimbursed on arrival but not always immediately. For instance reimbursement may only be if the contract is completed. Likewise for return flights which may not be paid for if the contract is terminated early. If the contract is not clear then you should find out how this works. Excess baggage can also be a problem if the performers have to take over lots of costumes or props so check the baggage allowance is sufficient or whether they will pay for the excess if this is the case. It should be noted that airlines cover themselves pretty comprehensively when it comes to lost or delayed baggage.
- There may be other terms in the contract relating to miscellaneous items such as costumes and who is responsible for maintenance. The employer should normally deal with wear and tear but may want to penalise the performer if a costume is damaged through 'negligence'.
- If a performer has problems while working overseas they should make Equity aware at the earliest opportunity if they are a member. www.equity.org.uk