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No excuse for intrusive insurance questions, says BECTU

Photo by Jess Hurd

17 January 2019

Insurance companies must call time on the “humiliating” practice of demanding freelance workers divulge deeply personal information, says Head of BECTU Philippa Childs.

The issue of some insurance companies forcing freelancers to fill out sexist and intrusive health insurance forms before they can secure work has been highlighted by Directors UK and BECTU in an article in Broadcast Magazine (paywall link).

In some cases, freelancers have been grilled about personal issues including pregnancy, menstruation, sexual health and mental health history.

Independent production companies engage the services of insurance companies such as Chubb and Hiscock through a variety of brokers, with forms especially tailored to the TV sector. But in some cases the wording has gone unchanged for two decades and undermines individuals’ privacy and dignity.

Some freelancers have refused to fill out the forms, while others have complained of being made to feel “extremely uncomfortable” disclosing details and during medical examinations.

Head of BECTU, Philippa Childs, said: “There can be no excuse for production companies insisting that freelance workers divulge deeply personal information, which surely has no bearing on their ability to do the job.

“It is extremely unlikely that a permanent member of staff would ever have to offer up this kind of information, and it is wrong for freelancers to be treated differently and have their dignity undermined.

“Broadcasting freelancers face many hurdles to finding fair and reasonable employment. This is one that should be removed immediately, and underlines the importance of freelancers being part of BECTU, so that we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder to improve rights at work.”

Some production companies have pledged to explore exploring options for making forms more relevant and less intrusive.