“Hobbit Law” working group

by Carolyn Heaton - Morrison Kent

The Government has established the Film Industry Working Group to recommend changes to the way workers are employed in the screen and film industry.

The Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010, commonly referred to as the “Hobbit Law”, provides that by default film production workers are independent contractors unless they are party to a written employment agreement that states that they are employees. As the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Iain Lees-Galloway, said in his press release on 29 January 2018, contractors do not have the same rights as employees in New Zealand, and do not have the right to bargain collectively.

The Film Industry Working Group is made up of players in the film industry (Equity NZ, the Stunt Guild, Weta Digital, to name just a few) as well as BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions.

The Film Industry Working Group is expected to make recommendations to the Minister by mid-2018.

It can be difficult to determine whether any particular working relationship is one of employment or is between a principal and an independent contractor. We have the experience and expertise to advise you. 

If you would like any further information or advice about these matters, please contact Wellington based employment lawyer Carolyn Heaton or the Morrison Kent Wellington office (04) 472-0020.

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