Talent agencies must be licensed in B.C.
A talent agency is a person or organization that charges a fee to offer, promise or try to get employment for:
- extras, or
- technical creative film personnel involved in a production of a film, video, television show or television commercial
You can register and attend an education seminar to learn about the responsibilities of talent agencies under the Employment Standards Act.
Protecting child performers is everyone's role. Talent agencies must provide a signed statutory declaration (or multiple declarations if required).
Every talent agent, director, officer, partner or person who directs the affairs of a talent agency will be required to submit a notarized declaration to be issued a talent agency licence.
Licence applications won't be processed until a copy of each declaration is received.
Prepare the financial security
You must provide a $725 financial security for all new applications. You can pay the financial security using a cheque or other security payable to the Minister of Finance. Renewal applications do not require additional financial security. You can send the security before or after you apply, but your application will only be processed after the security is received.
The financial security is retained for up to 12 months after the talent agency’s licence expires. The financial security may be returned prior to the 12 month period if:
- There are no outstanding complaints against the talent agency
- No complaints are received against the talent agency within the statutory complaint period of 6 months after their licence expires
The financial security cannot be paid by credit card.
You can mail your financial security to the address below and start the application process online.
Employment Standards Branch
PO Box 9570 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9K1
If sending by courier:
Employment Standards Branch
200-880 Douglas Street
Victoria, BC V8W 2B7
You must pay a $100 non-refundable application fee for a talent agency application.
You must provide a copy of the talent agency’s standard contract and information about the agency, directors and work locations.
Pay online with credit card
You can complete the talent agency licence application online to reduce processing time and pay using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). Note: Debit cards (such as Interac or Visa Debit) cannot be used to pay the application fee.
Pay by phone with credit card
If you want to pay by phone using a credit card, you can submit your application online first and follow the instructions at the end.
Pay by cheque
If you want to pay by cheque, you can submit your application online first and follow the instructions at the end.
Before a licence is issued, each application is assessed to make sure that an agency will operate in the best interests of clients and employers. The review process can take several weeks.
If you are applying for the first time, a delegate will contact you to schedule an interview.
If your licence is not approved, a delegate will contact you by phone (and follow-up with a letter) to let you know the reasons why your licence was not approved. Your financial security will be refunded. Applicants who previously had their licence cancelled may be refused another licence.
The Employment Standards Branch investigates all complaints about talent agencies. If a complaint is received about your agency, a delegate will contact you to get more information and try to resolve the complaint. If it is determined that you owe a client money, the Director of Employment Standards may initiate collection to recover funds.
Licences can be cancelled or suspended and a talent agency could be fined for:
- Making a false or misleading statement in its application for a licence
- Contravening the Employment Standards Act or Regulation
- Failing to display their licence number on all public advertising and any contract or written agreement made with a client
- Being involved in any activity that is illegal, dishonest, fraudulent or deliberately misleading, and which is related to the operation of the talent agency
If your licence is suspended because you do not meet a condition of the Employment Standards Act or Regulation, your licence can be re-instated once you are in compliance with the Act. If your licence has been cancelled, you need to reapply.
Talent agency licences must be renewed annually. Submit your renewal application before your licence expires. If not, you could get fined for operating without a licence. You will not receive a renewal notice when your licence is about to expire.
- Sign and notarize a statutory declaration for each new talent agent, director, officer, partner or person who directs the affairs of the talent agency
- Submit the $100 non-refundable application fee (payable to the Minister of Finance)
- Do not submit financial security with the renewal application: financial security is only required for a new licence application
- Submit a current version of your standard contract
It takes about 2 weeks to review and approve complete renewal applications. During the review process, a delegate may contact you for more information.
Talent agencies must:
- Display their licence number on all public advertising and any contract or written agreement made with a client
- Provide information to the Employment Standards Branch, if requested
- Deliver wages to clients that have been collected on their behalf
If you work with children, comply with the guidelines of the Code of Conduct for Working With Child Performers (PDF, 376.3KB) developed by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
Agencies can charge fees to help clients find employment
Once the agency fee is deducted, clients must get at least minimum wage plus 4% vacation pay. If the client works overtime, payment must equal at least minimum wage, plus overtime pay and vacation pay after the agency fee is deducted.
Example: A client earns $20 per hour from a producer. Their total earnings for one hour of work equals $20.80 ($20 plus 4% vacation pay). The agency deducts a 15% fee which equals $3.12. The client receives $17.68 per hour.
Photo fee: Agencies can also charge $25 per year for taking or providing photos. This fee can only be deducted once a client is paid for doing work through the agency.
Agencies charge their fee based on a client's wages
Wages include money paid or payable by an employer for work or incentives related to hours of work, production or efficiency. For example:
- Pay for straight time or overtime
- Payments for use fees
- Meal penalties
- Wardrobe calls
- Travel time
- Audition fees
- Improv or stunt fees
- Residuals or earnings from commercials
- Vacation pay
Wages do not include allowances or expenses. For example:
- Per diems
- Travel or mileage expenses
- Retirement payments
- Insurance benefits
- Wardrobe fees
- Compensation for specialized items
- Late payment penalties
- Delay/recall fees
- Callback fees
Booking fees are not part of a client's wages and should not show on the their pay statement. These fees must be processed separately.
Agencies cannot charge other fees
Agencies cannot charge other fees like annual fees, registration fees, modelling school fees or fees for advertising.
If the agency would like to use a specialized third party service, clients must decide if they want to use the service and pay for it directly (e.g. to use online photo services such as The Casting Workbook or The Link).
Agencies can pay for advertising for a client, but they cannot pay someone else (directly or indirectly) to help get employment for a client.
Agencies can receive wages on behalf of clients and deduct their fee from them
The agency makes sure the terms of the contract with an employer/producer (or "deal memo") are met, calculates their fee and then pays the client:
- The client is given payment from the agency with their fees already deducted
- The client is given a cheque from the producer and is required to pay the agency fee
Clients must get their wages within five business days of the agency receiving payment. If the payment is from outside of B.C., the agency has 12 days to pay the client. If the client cannot be located within 60 days, their wages must be sent to the Employment Standards Branch where they're held in trust for the client.
The Employment Standards Branch can collect unpaid wages from agencies, including interest. Directors and officers of the talent agency are personally liable for unpaid wages.
Talent agencies must keep accurate records of the clients they serve
A talent agency must keep a record for each actor, performer, extra or technical creative film person employed through the the talent agency. This includes:
- The amount of money received on behalf of the client from the employer
- The amount the talent agency claimed as its fee
- The amount paid to the actor, performer, extra or technical creative film person
- The name and address for each employer for whom the talent agency provides a service
- The name and address of each client employed as an actor, performer, extra or technical creative film person through the efforts of the talent agency, or who is provided with information about employers seeking actors, performers, extras or technical creative film persons
Agency records must be kept in English at the talent agency’s principal place of business in B.C. for two years.
If a talent agency has employees, they must also keep payroll and employment records for each employee for four years.
Employment Standards Act
Employment Standards Regulation
Ask for help
Clients and talent agencies can get advice and information to help deal with issues.
Make a complaint
Submit a formal complaint about an issue or dispute with a talent agency.
You can also report problems to the Better Business Bureau or the Talent Agents & Managers Association of Canada.