Workplace relations in the screen sector

A law change is on the way for contractors working in New Zealand’s screen sector. The changes, proposed by industry and largely supported by Government, will see contractors allowed to bargain collectively.

Currently, most workers in New Zealand’s screen sector are contractors who are not entitled to employment rights, including the right to negotiate working conditions collectively.

In 2018, the Government brought together industry, business and worker representatives to design a model that allows collective bargaining in the screen sector. In June 2019, the Government has largely agreed to their recommendations, and is now drafting legislation to implement them.

The key aspects of the new model are:

  • Whether a screen sector worker is a contractor or employee will continue to be determined solely by the type of written agreement they have. In practice, this means workers can carry on as contractors, with the continued flexibility this provides.
  • New universal terms will apply to all contract relationships in the screen industry. These relate to good faith between parties; protection from bullying, discrimination and harassment; fair and reasonable contract termination; and fair rates of pay.
  • Contractors will be able bargain collectively at occupational and enterprise levels, with clear processes covering how bargaining is initiated, carried out and concluded.
  • A tiered dispute resolution system will support parties to resolve issues.

The proposed model will go through detailed legislative design and the Parliamentary process, and is subject to change. We expect Parliament to pass the changes into law in mid-2020.

Read a factsheet about the proposed changes. [PDF, 495 KB]

Read the Minister’s announcement on the Government’s decision(external link)

Cabinet paper: Government response to the Film Industry Working Group's recommendations [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Cabinet minute: Government response to the Film Industry Working Group's recommendations [PDF, 180 KB]

For more information about the changes, you can contact us at


The Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010

Commonly referred to as the ‘Hobbit law’, this Act means film production workers are independent contractors, unless they are party to a written employment agreement that states they are employees.

Establishment of the Film Industry Working Group

Minister's media release on establishment of Film Industry Working Group(external link)

Terms of Reference for the Film Industry Working Group [PDF, 164 KB]

Cabinet paper: Establishment of the Film Industry Working Group [PDF, 171 KB]

Cabinet minute: Establishment of the Film Industry Working Group [PDF, 120 KB]

Film Industry Working Group recommendations

Read the Film Industry Working Group's recommendations to the Government [PDF, 381 KB]

Read the Film Industry Working Group's media release [PDF, 205 KB]

Read the Minister's media release welcoming the report(external link).