(From the ASE's eNews Rates & Conditions Edition in August 2018) 

We have worked to ensure that our recommended conditions are correct for the circumstances most of you are working in, the Australian context, where you will be needing to negotiate regularly throughout your career to ensure you are receiving a living wage that will cater for both now and your future.

To this end we have based all of our conditions on those that are contained within the two relevant Government registered agreements:
The Broadcasting, Recorded Entertainment and Cinemas Award 2010 (BREA) and the Motion Picture Production Certified Agreement 2010 (MPPCA). As well as including the minimum entitlements all employees are entitled to under the National Employment Standards (NES).

Our rates, however, are higher than either BREA or the MPPCA as their rates do not factor in the intermittent and uncertain nature of freelance work. If you are working full time, the documents are still very relevant in terms of conditions and entitlements. Similarly our rate card, even though for 50-hour week, is actually based on a 40-hour week with 10 hours of inbuilt overtime. So you can reverse engineer it to calculate a 38- or 40-hour week by dividing the relevant 50-hour weekly rate by 55, or a 10-hour daily rate by 11.

We have had many people tell us their eyes have been opened, and that they are now getting a much better rate, and they are now making sure they are getting their super, and allowances for holiday pay etc, which they didn’t feel confident to press for before. And by the way, just remember it is illegal to not pay super!!

The Documents:

We have two documents on our website. The public document contains a summary of conditions and the rate card itself.

The full document, restricted to ASE Members, is 25 pages. It also contains the summary and rate card, but gives much more depth of information on the entitlements and considerations most applicable to the freelance post production worker, with many useful links.

Navigating the Full Document Online: 

The first thing you will encounter is the Contents page which is very clickable!

  • Click on any chapter heading, or subheading and you will be taken to that chapter or item.
  • Click on any page number, and you will be taken to that page.
  • Once in a chapter if you wish to go back to the contents page, click on the “CONTENTS” button at the bottom right of any page.
Engagement Checklist:

The Engagement Checklist gives you an overview of things to consider depending on how you are engaged for the job - as an individual PAYG earner, as the holder of an ABN, or a company.

Following that is a basic summary of the things you need to be concerned with in your negotiations, including what is included in your fee, your entitlements, hours of work, equipment, insurance and possible termination.


Because the registered agreements do not always give suitable provisions for the freelance worker, our document has blue boxes throughout containing our ASE Recommendations which will help guide you with your decision making,

The Rates:

Pages 6 and 7 have what most people come to the Rates & Conditions Document to read - the Rate Card!!

We canvassed members and practitioners in the areas that represent our members, including Features, Television Drama, Documentary, Reality, Documentary, Documentary Features, Corporate, Commercial, VFX and Assistants.  At the same time, we consulted with the MEAA to help them compile their “Get Real on Rates” figures which align with ours.

The rates we presented in 2017 were considered a reasonable minimum living wage for freelancers when we compiled the document. We have now updated the rates by 3.5% in line with the Fair Work Commission’s 2018 update of minimum Award rates.

It is important to note that our figures are based on a 50-hour week, not because we think that is ideal, but because it is currently the industry standard. There are many who say that we should be giving 40 hours as a standard, and there are just as many saying they would be laughed out of the room if they suggested a 40-hour week.

If you do wish to negotiate a 40-hour week, we have given you the calculation to enable you to see what the rate would be. The specific calculation is required because our rates are actually based on a 40-hour week, with overtime entitlements built in to bring it up to a 50-hour week, in the same way the MPPCA calculates.

We also hope you take on board the Recommendation that the rates are a MINIMUM to negotiate UP from, and that you should always add loadings for entitlements such as super, holiday pay and other fringes/costs if you are charging as ABN or PTY LTD.

Rates & Conditions Nitty Gritty: 

Following the well-read rate card you will find more detailed information on all those things that you probably don’t think too hard about, or are possibly really confuddled about in the excitement of having a job offer in hand.

We do a further run-through of the three different contract arrangements, and the obligations and expectations of each regarding things such as insurances and entitlements. We provide links to useful data, such as a link which helps you determine whether you are an employee or a contractor. Interestingly, even if you are providing an ABN, or working as a company you are most likely considered an employee if you are paid a weekly wage and do not have the flexibility to substitute another person rather than yourself as Editor.

We provide breakdowns of how overtime and penalty payments are calculated, what a working week actually is, and reasonable turnarounds between the end of working days/weeks and the start of the next. We cover how to deal with flat fee requests, what your entitlements are regarding all types of leave (yes, you are entitled to personal and sick leave!). It is good to know what your entitlements are regarding meal breaks and that you even are entitled to 2 paid rest periods of 10 minutes a day (yes, you do have time to go to the loo!).

We cover allowances in case you get out on location, and look at suggestions of what to do if your film is cancelled, postponed or goes into hiatus - these are real problems when juggling your freelance schedule as one delayed production can mean you miss out on another. We also check out what to do if you or your employer wish to terminate your employment.

An important thing to be aware of is that because we are a guild, and not a union, we do not have the power to enforce these rates and conditions. Nevertheless, they are designed to give you the knowledge of your legal entitlements, so that you have the tools to negotiate a fair outcome. You just need to provide the courage and determination to negotiate.

The Rates & Conditions Documents will be updated each year in line with the Fair Work Commission wage updates.


In the spirit of helping you to have the same tools that producers and production managers are using, here is some useful information gleaned from Screen Australia’s A-Z Budgets (July 2018).

Understanding how producers work out their budgets, and their legal obligations regarding Fringes is important knowledge in your negotiations. The following excerpts regarding Fringes comes from the “INFO” section of the Screen Australia budget which producers use as a template for costing their productions.

Crew & Cast

Fringes are the expenses associated with employment.  For a low budget Feature preliminary budget assume that 100% of your cast, crews and extras are employees. For a Full Feature preliminary budget assume that at least 80% of your cast, crew and extras are employees.  By law the nature of the relationship that you have with them is that of an employer rather than a contractor.  If a crew member is contracted through a Pty Ltd company fringes are usually not payable but they may  want to negotiate a higher fee that compensates them for holiday pay and superannuation so at the budgeting stage you could even assume fringes on all crew and cast.

Holiday Pay

Payable to any crew member employed on a weekly basis. Per the award it is one-twelfth of the contracted wage or 8.33%, representing a pro-rata  payment of four weeks annual holiday…  For preliminary budgeting include calculation on overtime estimates.


A percentage set by Federal Superannuation Guarantee legislation and payable on the contracted wage and allowances of any employee who earns in excess of $450 per month. It is not paid on Holiday Pay or overtime.  At the time of budgeting check the rate that may be expected to be current when you expect to go into production. (The rate since 1 July 2014 is 9.5%)

Payroll Tax & Workers Comp.

The rates for both payroll tax and workers compensation are determined by each State so check the rates appropriate to the State in which you expect to shoot, as they will apply at the time that you expect to go into production.   They may be calculated on the contracted wage plus Holiday Pay, Overtime, Superannuation and allowances including per diems.  These inclusions vary from State to State.
Payroll tax is payable when wages exceed a nominated threshold per month.  This threshold varies from State to State.

(ASE note: This information is relevant, although PAYROLL TAX is not a cost to you when employed as a sole trader or PTY LTD Company, it is a cost to the production company on larger productions when paying PAYG employees, thus by providing your services as a sole trader or company, you are saving the production money-around 7% of your wage & fringes.)

Workers Compensation estimates are included in Fringes Category D, not with Insurances Category O. It is generally not paid on Superannuation.

(ASE Note: Screen Australia expects the producer to budget and pay all crew as if they are employees, regardless of whether they are contracted as PAYG or through a PTY LTD company. It is expected that if you are contracted as PTY LTD, (or ABN) that you will negotiate a fee that will include both the base rate, and fringes (holiday pay, superannuation, allowance for workers comp) on top, as well as including discussion on overtime rates.
On the ASE website is an Excel document based on the formula in Screen Australia’s A-Z budget that will help calculate your fringes on top of your wage -  


No matter how small the budget every filmmaker is advised to register the entity through which they produce their film for GST.  In all likelihood they would be legally required to register. This being the case always budget the production expenses net of GST.

Once registered you (the producer) may claim back all the GST that has been included in payments made.

GST will be dealt with contractually and by invoice.

(ASE Note: GST is NOT a cost to the producer, as the producer will claim back the full amount of the GST.
AS an ABN holder, your obligation is to pay the GST you have received to the taxation department, so you cannot consider it as any part of your wage, and the fact that you are obliged to charge 10% on top of your base wage, is no reason to reduce your wage.)

Note: Superannuation is not required to be included as part of your gross wage for GST.

Final Note: The information provided here should not be your only source of information. Please consult your tax agent, BAS agent or accountant as each small business’ circumstances will vary.


•    FAIR WAGE COMMISION Media Release:2018 minimum wage rise

•   American working conditions

•    Cost of living

If you need any encouragement to ensure you are getting the wage you deserve, consider these facts:

Although overall the CPI rose 2.1%, in the last year in Australia, transport  (mainly fuel) rose by 6.9%, housing rose by 3.4%, Health costs by 3.1%, Alcohol and tobacco by 7.8%, electricity rose by 10.4%. The only saving grace is it is cheaper to go on a holiday, with domestic prices reduced by -2.7%.


Many Australian capital cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart, have become more expensive over the past year compared to the rest of the world. While Sydney ranked 32 in the list of most expensive cities overall, it was the 16th most expensive city in terms of rent, being more expensive than London.