A Beginner’s Guide to UK Fashion Modelling Laws & Regulations
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The modelling industry can be tricky to navigate at the best of times, but this is especially true when it comes to fashion modelling laws. It might be a boring part of the job, but it’s incredibly important for you to brush up on the legal aspects of the job to protect yourself from potential future issues.
As modelling is not considered a full-time salaried job, there are certain laws about money as well as other aspects of the business that aspiring models should be aware of.
Please note that this isn’t a comprehensive guide. You should always try to seek the guidance of a professional.
Modelling Agency Regulations
Agency Regulations are perhaps the most useful starting point in a practical guide to the law in the modelling sector.
A modelling agency is a type of employment agency. That means it is an agency that introduces someone seeking paid work to a hirer for a permanent or fixed-term employment position. A modelling agency’s job is to find bookings and negotiate contracts on behalf of the model. The models themselves are considered self-employed independent businesses.
The agency is known as the hirer, while the models are known as the client.
Child models have additional rules and regulations. Here in the UK, a person is considered a child if they are under the age of 16. Their parent or guardian is ultimately responsible for them, and a child model will need consent from a carer to be able to pursue modelling.
A child will also need their parent/guardian to be present at casting calls and other interviews. Their parent/guardian will be responsible for signing contracts and negotiating payments.
Modelling Agency Regulations
Some of the most important provisions in the Agency Regulations are as follows:
- An agency must provide a written agreement to any models it has on its books.
- An agency must actively seek out employment and job opportunities for the client model.
- A modelling agency may choose to invest a substantial amount into a new model client if they believe the client has the potential to do well. They may do this by paying for photography test shoots, paying for new clothing, covering travel and accommodation expenses, purchasing their portfolio, investing in hair and make-up, paying for graphic designers and printers for their marketing material and paying for their v-cards (aka composite cards).
- If a client doesn’t do as well as the agency hoped, the model agency loses its investment and may drop the client model. If the client does do well, the agency will recoup its investment from the client model’s own earnings.
- A small agency will not be able to afford substantial investments, so the client model may be expected to make advance payments to the small agency for these types of ancillary services.
- Under the Agency Regulations, model agencies may not make finding a booking for a client model conditional on the provision of these additional services.
- The client model must be given the option of opting out of any of these additional services. Many new models can’t afford these types of provisional services themselves, and for many, the assistance offered by larger modelling agencies is invaluable to their modelling career. That’s why getting signed to the right agency is so important.
- The type of agreements most commonly seen in the modelling industry includes Model Representation Agreements, Model Mother Agency Agreements, Model Management Agreements and Model Booking Confirmation Agreements.
- A modelling agency can’t take detrimental action, or include restrictive terms, in a contract which means the model can’t terminate the contract, or that means the model can’t effectively earn a living.
- A modelling agency can not act as a client to the model and the hirer simultaneously. This is to prevent the agency from making money from both parties for the same commission.
- If a model is signed to more than one agency, the first agency is responsible for the written agreements between all parties. The first agency is also responsible for establishing the chain for money and commissions to be paid (this relates to a situation where there is a “mother agency” and one or more local agencies involved).
A modelling agency makes money by finding a model work, and then taking a cut of the ensuing payment. The agency and model have a written signed agreement. The agency must include the following in its terms:
- The service it provides
- Details of their authority (e.g. power of attorney)
- A statement as to whether the agency is authorised to receive money on behalf of the model
- Details about any fees owed to the model for finding them work, and how this is calculated
- information regarding how refunds and rebates are payable to the model, and a statement to the effect if nothing is payable
- The method of payment, and information regarding any deductions of the model’s earnings
- A specified mutual notice in the agreement
- Details of any fees which may be payable to the hirer
- The amount of the fee, or the method of calculation
- The procedure if the hirer is dissatisfied with the model
- Details of authority to act
- The contract should also specify whether the services provided by the model agency is as an employment agency or an employment business
- Both parties must have an up-to-date copy of the agreement
A modelling agency can’t threaten to or withhold payment because a model terminated their contract. They also can’t deduct a proportion of the model’s due payment. However, a model agency can seek recovery of loss as a result of a model not carrying out the necessary work due to a terminated contract.
An agency can’t withhold payment for any of the following reasons:
- The agency has not yet been paid by the hirer (e.g. the brand hiring the model for work)
- The model rejected or has yet to complete an unrelated job
- For other reasons under the company’s control
The agency can delay payment (for a reasonable length of time) while it verifies work to be done by the brand, but it can’t indefinitely delay payment to the model, nor can it withhold payment altogether.
If a modelling agency received money on behalf of the model, it must be paid into the model’s account by the end of the 3rd business day after the day it is received. Payments to models must be accompanied by a statement saying when and from whom the money is from, as well as the work to which the payment relates and any fees or deductions made by the modelling agency.
If a modelling agency fails to comply with either the 1973 Act or the Agency Regulations and this failure results in damages or a loss to the model or hirer, the model or hirer can sue the modelling agency for damages arising from a breach of the 1973 Act or the Agency Regulations.
Cancelling a Contract with a Modelling Agency
Both sides (the agency and the model) must give reasonable notice before terminating an agreement. If the modelling agency is an employment business, then Regulation 10 of the Agency Regulations will apply. Regulation 10 is a very complicated regulation that could potentially address the issue of a model being unfairly restricted by a term in an agreement.
The modelling agency must notify the model of the terms of the contract no later than the 5th business day after it is signed. Of course, you shouldn’t sign any form of agreement before thoroughly reading through it beforehand. Never sign a contract until you are 100% happy with every aspect of it. If you don’t understand any part of it, seek legal advice; a reputable agency will not mind if you need extra time to go through your contract/ never allow anyone to force, manipulate, blackmail or otherwise cajole you into signing something before you are ready.
Protecting the Model Client
A modelling agency should take steps to ensure the safety and well-being of its models. That means the agency has a duty of explaining or making the model aware of any laws that the model has to satisfy before being able to work for them, or for a hirer (brand). For example, some countries don’t allow models under a certain age to undertake full-time employment. The modelling agency should not only be aware of such laws, but they should ensure they abide by them.
The agency should also be aware of any issues that may affect themselves or their models so they can make an informed decision on whether or not to go ahead with the placement. This can include health conditions, ongoing legal issues, or if the hirer is facing financial difficulties.