A co-operative agency is an Employment Agency*
* Employment Agencies provide work-finding services to work-seekers, for direct employment by a hirer. An Employment Business employs the work-seeker.
UK agents must comply with The Conduct of Employment Agencies & Employment Business Regulations 2003. Special rules apply to entertainment agents:
- Only entertainment agencies may charge a fee to look for work – but it may only be “a deduction from earnings from jobs the agency has arranged” (commission).
- Actors’ earnings paid to an agency must be held in a separate Clients’ Account.
- An agency which gets a fee from the actor’s employer, may not charge the actor commission (e.g., some foreign employers pay a 20% “agency fee”).
- A fee to join an agency must be fully refunded when the actor leaves the agency.
- Other fees may be charged, but must not be a condition of representation.
- Terms of trade of an agency, including commission, must be agreed with the actor.
An easy guide is at www.gov.uk/employment-agencies-and-businesses/overview
The full legislation is at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2003/3319/contents/made
Many co-ops used to charge an unreturnable joining fee. When the 2003 Regulations rendered these unlawful, the CPMA was created and obtained this assurance: “Co-operative agents in the entertainment sector will often require a stakeholder donation from work-seekers when they join the agency. This donation allows the work-seeker a stake in the co-operative and is returnable if the work-seeker leaves the agency. As such this donation is exempt from the provisions of Regulation 26(2) because it is not a fee for work-finding services and, therefore, such a payment can be requested before any work is found.”
The Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 says union membership (or non-membership) may not be a condition for providing work-finding services.
The CPMA is not a regulatory body, but our members must accept our Code of Conduct (see About the CPMA), and are expected to be bona-fide co-op businesses: owned and controlled by their members, who have an equal say in how the business is run, based on one member, one vote.
Co-op agencies may be incorporated or unincorporated. Members of an incorporated co-op (limited company, Registered Society) are, in law, directors of the company. All businesses need a governing document and submit annual accounts to the relevant authority.
The umbrella body for co-op businesses, Co-operatives UK, has lots of information on legal structures, pros and cons of incorporation, governing documents and other matters. See www.uk.coop/the-hive/setting-up-a-co-operative/overview-checklist