FSE: Authors’ Organisations Joint Statement on COVID-19 Crisis
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages our societies, including the cultural and creative sectors, authors’ organizations stand in solidarity with all those affected by the virus and we support measures taken to contain it.
Our members – writers of all kinds, composers, songwriters, directors and cinematographers – have seen their industries come to a standstill and their livelihoods vanish in a matter of days. We urge decision-makers to include specific measures to help self-employed and freelance authors as they devise emergency measures in support of the Cultural and Creative industries heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
As governments and public agencies are starting to announce much-needed support measures for businesses at risk, we urge decision-makers to avoid creating a worrying inequality between the employed and self-employed workers and freelance community.
Authors are not businesses nor employees and already face precarious working conditions and unstable income. They work, whichever sector they are in, from contract to contract, and those contracts are now being suspended or cancelled. We also believe that few working professional artists / authors have any resources – savings, investments, pensions – that they can rely on in difficult times.
As such, several essential issues need to be considered in devising specific support to help mitigate the impact of the ongoing crisis on the creative community:
- Loss of work (postponed/cancelled ongoing work, or work that was due to start).
- Limited ability to work due to illness, self-isolation or caring responsibilities (children, vulnerable persons).
- Limited ability to work due to specificities of the craft (e.g. access to required equipment, crew, ability to travel).
- Financial impact of work loss e.g. uncertainty on ongoing contracts’ payments, reduced rates, compensation for contract termination, insurance.
- Managing living costs (rent, utilities, mortgage, loans, etc).
- Freelance authors’ access to unemployment schemes or welfare benefits aimed at people without any income who do not have rights to unemployment benefits.
- Securing future work, including alternative employment in or outside the sector.
As a result, emergency measures should include:
- Immediate access to full sick pay including isolation periods for freelance workers,
- Possibility for authors to be covered by public health insurance during the crisis and the aftermath,
- Adjustment of unemployment schemes where available to ensure continued access,
- Immediate access to guaranteed basic income such as welfare benefits aimed at people without any income who do not have rights to unemployment benefits,
- Options for replacement income for the crisis period,
- Deferment/support for living costs (e.g. rent, mortgage, loans),
- Tax relief.
We call on the European institutions and all public authorities across Europe to ensure that such measures aimed at supporting freelancers, including authors, are encouraged and financially supported, with temporary amendments or exceptions of existing rules where necessary. We also encourage the EU to swiftly assess the devastating impact of this crisis on authors and provide recommendations to overcome their specific challenges.