HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

ESM4121A - Particular occupations: entertainment industry - theatrical performers/artists: additional considerations in the media and performing arts sector - actors and other performers examples

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Example 1

Olu is an actor. He appears in a play in London for 14 weeks and then spends 10 weeks shooting a feature film, He also periodically undertakes role play work for corporate events, typically for a single day at a time. He is not financially dependent on any one engagement although some are more lucrative than others. Olu has engaged an agent to help him find work and pays for an entry in a professional directory. He needs to be able to ride a horse and use a sword for the film role, so he hires a coach and pays her from his own money. Olu purchases a video camera and other equipment to assist him with self-taping to help him win work and incurs the travel costs associated with attending auditions without reimbursement. Each contract he wins is for a single engagement, and he has different contracts through the year. 

Olu is likely to be self-employed.

Example 2

Albert is a dancer in a ballet company. He works only for that ballet company, performing in the company’s productions as required, also participating in the company’s outreach work, tours and other activities. He is engaged on a 2-year contract with the company and is economically dependent on it.  In addition, when not touring Albert occasionally takes additional work at weekends or evenings, or while on leave from his main job, as a dancer on arts programmes, at dancing schools or night clubs. These are not a significant or regular source of income.

Albert is likely to be an employee of the ballet company.

Example 3

Annie is a drummer on a West End show. She supplied a drum kit at the start of the run which is used by herself and her deputies.  Her engagement on the West End show is part of a busy freelance career which involves teaching, session work and other live performance. If she goes on tour or wants to accept alternative work, she can put a deputy or substitute into the West End show at short notice, this will be at her own cost.

Annie is likely to be self-employed.