A stage director is set to appeal after an Employment Tribunal ruled he had to pay five actors the national minimum wage for their work on a show.
Gavin McAlinden had advertised for performers to appear in a revival of David Edgar’s Pentecost in London on a “profit-share” basis.
Profit-share means that performers receive no wage but share in a proportion of profits.
An Employment Tribunal judge ruled that the five actors had effectively been employed by Mr McAlinden’s Charm Offensive Limited production company despite the fact it was advertised as profit-share and “they knew it was unlikely there would be any profits to share”.
The actors qualified as workers under the definitions of the National Minimum Wage Act and Regulation 2 of the Working Time Regulations 1998.
However, Mr McAlinden intends to appeal after claiming he did not have sufficient opportunity to explain that fringe productions staged on a profit-share basis were an accepted part of UK theatre.
He told The Stage newspaper: “I didn’t feel I had the proper chance to explain the partnership and collaborative side of that process and to argue it from the point of view of contemporary theatre practice in this country, and the fact that it is widely acknowledged that this was an accepted part of contemporary theatre practice.”
Mr McAlinden added how the judge at the employment tribunal admitted to having no knowledge of contemporary British theatre and hoped an appeal would see the case reviewed by someone with a better understanding of the sector.
The performers – Mathangi Ray, Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso, Vesna Vujat, Peyman Shameli and Seda Yildiz – took the action after two of the claimants were dismissed from his production of Pentecost at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, London, in March 2012.
A spokesman from Equity, the union representing the performers, said: “We have not heard whether Gavin McAlinden has been granted the ability to appeal.
“If he is, we will continue to protect our members in any further court action, but as it stands the original court judgment still remains with the next stage being an employment tribunal in December that will ascertain what monies are owed to our members.”