Government’s ‘Stay at home’ advice and freelance photography service

and from hard hat, steel toe boots and hi-vis jackets to masks, eye protection and gloves?

Today, 30th March 2020, is the best day so far in the mayhem of C19.  Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc has commissioned two photoshoots for this week.  For the past 2 weeks, our buoyant photography agency has seen widespread cancellations, all the way to July.  Our freelancers have been reporting that their diaries became empty, austere.

UNP Photo Agency Office

Working at UNP Photo Agency in March 2020, just before COVID 19 forced us to close the office doors. ©UNP 2020

The UK and the whole world are now on an emergency footing.  During these unprecedented times we would like to assure you, our customers and photographers, that UNP ‘remains open for business’.  We are determined to deliver for the clients we serve, for Amazon, Lloyds Banking Group, Aldi, Morrisons, BOC, NatWest, Parcelforce, Coop, Airbus, Ikea, Aston Martin, RBS, Rolls-Royce Holdings and for many more in the print, publishing and PR industry.

We remain open during coronavirus pandemic and we‘re working hard to ensure that the freelance photography service we provide, and all our services (office staff) and support (with library) are able to run as normal in these challenging times.

That’s why we want to assure you that we’ve built a robust frame to ensure that our services and support are able to run as normal as possible.  It is true we are no longer working from our lovely office, but thanks to the technology and state of the art equipment,  our staff are all connected from their homes and  are still available 24/7, 365, working even more united than before, as if ‘across the desk’.

 

UNP office in Leeds

Freelance photographers who work with UNP Ltd, (L to R) Mark Bickerdike and Victor De Jesus at UNP HQ in Leeds, England, UK, before Covid 19. ©Photo: UNP

We would also like to assure you that our number one priority is to make sure the safety of the photographers as well as subjects, who will be photographed, are not compromised.

Even though the situation across the world changes every minute and new developments reported are extremely fast, United National Photographer Ltd team are doing everything we can to act within government’s guidelines:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

Stay at home

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

As the photographers cannot work from home, and have to cover events during COVID 19 outbreak, I hate to phrase it like this, but we are very much ‘business as usual’.

Our photographers are used to having, wearing personal protective equipment, PPE.  This used to be hard hat, steel toe cap & midsole boots and hi-visibility clothing.  As we move on to new “territories” perhaps there should be a call for photographers who work on locations on freelance basis to protect themselves by using a personal protective equipment similar to what the front line personnel at the hospitals are using, appropriate masks, long-sleeved gowns, eye protection and gloves?

Please stay safe and healthy.

Hamlet Mejloumian

MD, UNP Ltd

Statutory Self Employed Pay Possibly for Freelance Photographers in UK

We very much hope freelance (self-employed) photographers, who are the backbone of the industry, will not be forgotten and will get help from the government.  UNP Ltd and most photo agencies like ours, work only with freelancers across the UK and as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to affect our usual working patterns, where we see wide cancellations until June & July this year, we are worried that it’ll affect our photographer and their livelihoods big time.

United National Photographers are here to support anyone affected but we are helpless unless the Government pays self-employed workers.  Below is how to bill went before Parliament.

 

Committee of the whole House: 23 March 2020

Member’s explanatory statement:

The purpose of this amendment is to make the Government ‘top up’ self-employed workers’ earnings to the lower of 80% of their net monthly earnings averaged over three years, or £2,917 a month.

 

  1. The Secretary of State must, by regulations, introduce a scheme of Statutory Self- Employment Pay.
  2. The scheme must make provision for payments to be made out of public funds to individuals who are a: self-employed, or b: freelancers.
  3. The payments to be made in subsection (2) are to be set so that the net monthly earnings of an individual specified in subsection (2) do not fall below

    a: 80 per cent of their monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years, or

    b: £2,917

    whichever is lower.

  4. No payment to be made under subsection (2) shall exceed £2,917 per month.
  5. A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

As you will be aware the situation with regard to the coronavirus is evolving daily. Like many companys we have talked to our staff and many freelance photographers  about the importance of good hygiene habits and handwashing. We are adopting a ‘business as usual’ approach, keeping photographers and client’s alike informed without unnecessarily worrying them.

Photo agency UNP will survive this man-made nightmare.  That’s said, we have been working on our contingency planning in case of office closure, where we will prioritise client’s and photographers’ continued support wherever possible.  We will be here at all the time, manning the emails, phones in case of forward planning / bookings for April and May, as I am sure many of our clients will be working from home and doing exactly the same.  Something freelance photographer cannot do sadly.

Meanwhile…

Public Health England have been clear on action to take if people display the symptoms of coronavirus. If this is the case for pupils and families then they should stay at home and you should contact NHS 111 to get advice and guidance, including whether to self-isolate. The NHS outlines the symptoms of coronavirus as “A cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath.” The NHS also makes it clear that these symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have the illness as they are similar to the symptoms of more common illnesses such as cold and flu.