What is The Time Project?

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Hopefully, if you are reading this, you have already heard of The Time Project. We hope you have, because we believe it can change our lives for the better.

The Time Project is a project of accumulation. It will tell you how many hours you have worked, it will tell you your hourly rate, it will tell you how many hours over your contracted obligation you have worked, and it will tell you how many hours you have given to the broadcaster you are working for – for free. 

Then, as more and more people use it, it will tell you how you compare with others. It will tell you if, for example, someone doing your job in Manchester is on a better deal, whether working in the same role but in a different genre might be better, it will tell you about the industry. It will take you out of yourself, allow you a perspective on working in telly that none of us have had before. It will give you new eyes on your work.


We know, of course, that very few individuals have enough power in the industry to argue for better pay and better conditions, to argue for this by working fewer hours. We’re told we are lucky to be here, we’re told not to speak up, we’re told to work harder and longer if we want to get on. But by using The Time Project you are adding your voice to the argument that says: actually, I can’t work these hours all the time. I need to look after my mum, I need to look after my kids, I need to look after myself. I need a life outside of work. 

Add your voice. Use your data to help change the conversation, to argue for YOU. It’s all anonymous – you will never be called out. This data is an argument for better. It’s an argument for doing a job you love without sacrificing anything else. It’s an argument for pleasure, for joy, for time doing what you love, with the people you love. Don’t you deserve some of that?

Sign up today at www.thetimeproject.co.uk

Louise Patel from SMTJ said:

“By gathering data on working hours, researchers will be able to build an accurate picture of how hours worked correlate to pay, ethnicity, gender and disability, as well as the impact on health and safety issues and workforce well-being. From our campaigning over the past 5 years with SMTJ, we know that working hours are intrinsically linked to issues of burnout, the lack of diversity, the loss of women in the industry, career stagnation and serious mental health issues – with solid evidence of unfair working practice we can continue our work with Bectu to bring real, fundamental change to the industry ” 

The hope is that the data collected will enable researchers to build an accurate picture of the way freelancers work in television, establishing patterns of behaviour and establishing patterns of overwork which have major impacts on workers’ health and wellbeing.

 Dr Jon Swords of SIGN said: 

 “The Time Project could be potentially transformative for understanding the amount of additional time television workers contribute to the screen industries. The data collected will be valuable to understand the nature of overworking and identifying who does the most, which parts of the sector are impacted the most and if some parts of the country are better at providing fairer contracts. Working with SMTJ provides us with an excellent opportunity to understand working practices across the TV industry.”

Dr Rowan Aust said:

“Excessive working hours are endemic in television production and understanding patterns of why long hours are typical rather than exceptional is key to changing the industry for the better across all equality, diversity and inclusivity agendas. Television asks new entrants to work these hours for cripplingly low pay. It asks that parents make a choice between work and their kids. It is preventative of caring for others and selves. This data will allow us to understand who is impacted the most and how practice can be changed for the benefit of everyone making TV.”

The project is supported by Bectu who will roll out the study to their members and work closely with SMTJ and SIGN to collect essential data with the view to making more impactful change for freelancers in relation to rates and working hours across the screen industries.

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said: 

“Bectu has consistently campaigned against the culture of long hours that go unpaid. Our Eyes Half Shut campaign highlighted the devastating impact these working practices have on content, mental health and wellbeing. We know that people working in film and TV don’t want to continue working in this way. As the industry returns to work we will be working on behalf of nearly 20,000  freelance members to ensure that working conditions improve and do not deteriorate as a result of the pandemic. This piece of work comes at a crucial time and we will be urging members to take part.”

The Time Project will launch with a pilot in September where participants will be asked to upload their working hours either daily or weekly.  The aim is to rollout an app soon after, which freelancers and staff can use to upload anonymised data for the study.


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