The Hobbit presents a fantastic economic opportunity for New Zealand by both creating jobs in the movie industry and boosting New Zealand’s tourism industry.  In order to secure New Zealand as The Hobbit’s location, the government has passed the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act.  The Amendment Act clarifies that workers involved in film production work are independent contractors rather than employees, unless they enter into an agreement which provides that they are employees.

The decision to amend the Employment Relations Act came after a Court decision in which a model-maker was held to be an employee because he was working under a contract of service.  This meant he could bring a personal grievance claim, which he would not have been able to do if he were an independent contractor.  This was an issue of concern for Hollywood Producers, making New Zealand less attractive as a film location.  The Amendment Act seeks to mitigate this concern.

The Amendment Act only applies to “film production work” including production work for video games, but not including production work on television programmes.  “Film production work” includes: services (including promotional services) by an actor, voice-over actor, stand-in, body double, stunt performer, extra, singer, musician, dancer, entertainer; pre-production work; and production work.