Screen Industries Unite Around New Anti-Bullying and Harassment Principles

The first Set of Principles and Guidance to tackle bullying and harassment, specifically tailored to the screen industries is published today in response to the urgent and systemic issues revealed over past months.

Galvanised by a determination to eradicate bullying and harassment and support victims more effectively, the guidance has been developed by the BFI in partnership with BAFTA and in consultation with organisations including guilds, unions, industry member bodies and key agencies as well as employees and freelancers across all roles.

The Set of eight Principles cover a shared responsibility to respect others, adopt a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment at every level and in all areas of the industry, the Principles and Guidance specifically address the nature and structure of the screen industries, which rely on a considerable freelance workforce. It promotes a positive, respectful and productive workplace culture and clearly defines inappropriate behaviour, with the aim of preventing and prohibiting conduct that may cause harm, be detrimental to individuals or expose organisations to legal action.

The Guidance is designed to provide support and empower both employers and employees and provide clear and practical information for employers, covering understanding the law and their responsibilities and ways to provide good quality training, how companies and individuals can develop their own policies and how to recognise and challenge inappropriate behaviour.

The BFI will expect all projects that seek to benefit from their public funding, or associate with our industry organisations named above, to sign up to these Principles and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to breaches of the Principles.


Bullying and harassment have no place in our industries. These Principles aim to eradicate such abuse. They can also help employers meet legal requirements and offer a shared vision to promote and maintain a safer, more inclusive workplace environment for everyone working within the screen industries. All employers, employees, officers, workers, agency workers, trainees, volunteers, trustees, and freelancers should adhere to the following principles:

  1. Everyone is responsible for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace that is positive and supportive.
  2. We recognise that harassment may be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
  3. Those of us who are employers accept our responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  4. We do not tolerate bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, and will ensure that processes are in place for the reporting and investigation of these serious issues.
  5. We recognise that bullying and harassment can have significant adverse impacts on the productivity, long-term health and well-being of affected people and we will work to eradicate them.  This will mean providing adequate protection for complainants and victims, and, where bullying or harassment is found to have occurred, taking appropriate action against bullies or harassers.
  6. We value inclusivity, appreciate difference, welcome learning from others, and consider people equal without prejudice or favour. We build relationships based on mutual respect. We will all work to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, which we know will improve creativity and productivity.
  7. We understand that reporting bullying or harassment can be intimidating. We will respect confidentiality where possible and aim to make the process of reporting clear and straightforward. If anyone comes forward to report behaviour which might amount to bullying or harassment, we will endeavor to investigate objectively.   Individuals who have made complaints of bullying and harassment or participate in good faith in any investigation should not suffer any form of reprisal or victimisation as a result.
  8. We will respect each other’s dignity, regardless of the seniority of our role in an organisation.

These Principles should be read in conjunction with the relevant Guidance Notes. Together, they provide information about bullying and harassment in the workplace. Above all, they intend to set the tone of behaviour that is essential in the screen industries, and they define and aim to prohibit behaviour that may cause harm or detriment to individuals and expose organisations to legal action.

The Principles and Guidance will be incorporated in the BFI’s Diversity Standards, promoting inclusion and representation across the industry and are available for download at BAFTA previously announced that the Diversity Standards will become part of the eligibility criteria for the British categories at the Film Awards in 2019.

Making the Principles accessible

The Principles should be made available to everyone working within an organisation or on a project with such organisations, including senior leaders – heads of department and managers, as well as remote workers, freelancers and casual workers. They can be distributed in print format and electronically via email or online posting, making them as prominent as possible to everyone and in as many different formats as possible. All employees, workers, and freelancers should be given a copy of the Principles along with their contract and asked to sign a declaration to uphold the Principles at the beginning of any work. All contracts with employers, employees, officers, workers, agency workers, trainees, volunteers, trustees, and freelancers should include provisions along the lines of the following:

  1. The individual shall comply with these Principles (as amended from time to time).
  2. Breaches of the Principles may lead to disciplinary action and/or termination of the contract.
  3. Individuals should familiarise themselves with the Principles and the Guidance and should act in accordance with the information and advice.

From April, a new Film & Television Support Line from the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund is being developed by the CTBF in partnership with the Production Guild, and supported by the BFI will be opened from April 2018.

The Film & TV Support Line has been created as an industry-wide source of independent and confidential help for people affected by a range of issues including bullying and harassment. It will be operated 24/7 by professionally trained staff with expertise and experience in supporting people facing different difficulties from harassment, to support for depression and anxiety, debt and money advice, specialist addiction counselling, bereavement counselling, legal advice and financial assistance.

Access to the Film & TV Support Line is free at the point of contact. Follow-up specialist support tailored to an individual’s needs will be available, dependent on financial circumstances and industry service criteria. The CTBF is inviting industry partners to support and promote the Film & TV Support Line.  The service will provide a valuable resource to those working across the film and television sector, particularly the large proportion of self-employed and freelance workers who may be without other support networks.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the CTBF said: “Film and TV can be an amazing industry to work in. However, the horrifying revelations of harassment and abuse in our industry add to the under-reported incidence of stress, anxiety, health and mental health issues, and financial difficulty that can affect anyone. As the charity supporting those working in film, cinema, and TV, we know just how devastating these experiences can be for individuals, and damaging to our industry as a whole. We are pleased to be able to announce the opening of a new ‘Film & TV Support Line’ as a source of independent and confidential advice, free of charge, for all those working in any area of film, cinema, and TV. With the backing of the BFI, The Production Guild, and other supporting partners, this will be a vital resource for those in times of need – or who simply want a listening ear. We hope anyone from any area or role, and issues big or small, will get in touch. We want to help make a difference.”

Specific measures will be recommended including appointing two designated workers on and off set (preferably from all genders) to be trained to handle issues and allegations, ensure workers understand their rights and know how to seek help and support. They will encourage and support witnesses to step up and speak and outlines how to report criminal activity. The BFI and BAFTA will work with industry partners to offer training and advice for those with designated responsibility for dealing with bullying and harassment on-set, in film, TV or in games businesses.

To create a necessary step-change in the industry, genuine and visible commitment from senior leaders across the screen industries is essential. This is why the Guidance and Principles have been developed with, and endorsed by, a broad range of partners including BAFTA, BECTU, Equity, Pact, The Production Guild, Women in Film & TV, the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF), the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the UK Screen Alliance and UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), amongst others across the sector.

The Principles and Guidance will be featured in Creative Skillset’s upcoming Skills Passport pilot launching in the spring. The information has also been produced in accordance with advice recommended by workplace experts, Acas, the independent body that provides trusted advice and best practice to employers and employees, and with Challenge Consultancy, specialists in equality, diversity and inclusion training and policy development.

The Guidance will be reviewed every six months to ensure it is fit for purpose and is positively addressing the needs of the industry. The Principles and Guidance will also be embedded into the BFI Diversity Standards – a guide to improving inclusion and representation on and off-screen – which the industry are strongly encouraged to adopt. BFI-funded initiatives and activities have to commit to the Diversity Standards and have become an exemplar for UK film securing commitment from BAFTA, Film4 and BBC Films across their film activities.   Inclusion and representation are central to the BFI’s strategic priorities and BFI2022, its five-year plan for UK film, which is underpinned by new Diversity Targets for BFI funding awards and its internal staffing, which will formally be in place from April 2018.

Commitment from Industry Leaders

It is essential to have a genuine commitment from senior leaders across the screen industries to help create an inclusive culture. Visible endorsement of these Principles indicates a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment. We encourage all employers to actively promote the Principles.

The organisations which have supported the development and shaping of the Set of Principles and Guidance include:

BFI | BAFTA | BBC Films | BECTU | British Film Commission | British Society of Cinematographers | Creative England | Creative Scotland | Creative Skillset | CTBF | Directors UK | Edinburgh International Television Festival | Equity | Film4 | Ffilm Cymru Wales | Film London | Independent Cinema Office | Into Film | Northern Ireland Screen | Pact | The Production Guild | Writers’ Guild of Great Britain | Women in Film & TV | UK Interactive Entertainment | UK Screen Alliance


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