The Entertainment Services and Technology Association has launched projects to draft three new American National Standards:
BSR E1.18, Recommended practice for the selection, installation, use, and maintenance of single-conductor portable power feeder cable in the entertainment industry. The standard is intended to offer guidance on how to select, install, use and maintain single-conductor portable power feeder cables. The project will promote safety and compatibility in the equipment and practices used in live performance and in film and video production in North America.
BSR E1.19, Recommendations for the use of ground fault devices in the entertainment industry. The standard is intended to offer guidance on how to select, install, use and maintain ground fault protection devices in the entertainment industry. The project is intended to promote the use of these devices to protect people and property from hazards associated with using electrical equipment in wet locations, such as when pools of water are used on stage or a location video-shoot is conducted in the rain, and to promote reliability and avoid nuisance tripping.
BSR E1.20, Remote device management over USITT DMX512. The project is intended to develop a method of bi-directional communication over a USITT DMX512/1990 data link between an entertainment lighting controller and a remotely-controlled dimmer, moving light, or other device. The protocol for this communication is also intended to work with the BSR E1.11 lighting control protocol being developed by the same working group.Int
The PLASA Standards Office has prepared a series of Guidance Notes for PLASA Members. Each provides useful information on current topics of interest and will be updated on an ongoing basis in line with developments. Further documents are planned in response to the needs of PLASA members. The following guidance documents are currently available. These documents are in PDF (Portable Document Format) and may be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 3 or later) which is available free from www.adobe.co.uk
Guide to Australian EMC Framework: contains advice on the EMC and C-Tick labelling requirements for equipment destined for the Australian market.
Basic Guide to the FCC Rules: contains advice on application of the USA Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules on EMC for entertainment equipment.
Standards for Dimmers: contains advice on the applicable safety and EMC standards for professional dimming equipment in Europe. Now revised - version 2.
EN 61000-3-2: details the current status and activity on EN 61000-3-2, the EMC standard for harmonic current limits. Now revised - version 2.
Electrical Safety for the USA Market: contains advice on the electrical safety requirements for the USA market.
CE Marking for Trade Shows: contains advice on the CE Marking requirements for equipment displayed at trade fairs and exhibitions in Europe, including the PLASA Show.
The C.D.M. Regulations - A Summary of the Regulations for PLASA Members: contains advice on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. Now rev
Lighthouse Visual Communications were responsible for staging the 5th Nikken Annual European and World Convention in Dusseldorf, Germany for an audience of 5,000 delegates from 25 countries, with translation required for 17 languages. Nikken is an industry leader in network marketing and offer their clients a range of innovative products many of which are based on the latest in magnetic technology. Lighthouse have been involved with this client for over five years and 2001 represented the biggest challenge to date for the team.
The venue chosen was the Messe Congress Halls in Dusseldorf where six halls were booked to cover the main events, the Gala dinner and an exhibition centre. Hall 9 was the main convention site and covered 11,000sq.m. The set was 65m wide and contained two 20ft x 15ft screens. The principal feature of the conference was to reward delegates for sales throughout the year and this entailed up to 500 people on stage at one time. Day two of the conference featured two performances by international group Barrage, and culminated with the award for Distributor of the Year. Day Three was dedicated to the World event and the featured 40 members of the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra and a chorus of 10 singers. The total crew tally was 60 headed up by technical director Andy Peat, event producer Steve Penticost of Lighthouse, head of lighting Pete Edwards, head of sound Derrick Zieba, head of vision Paul Volker and stage manager Stephen Richter.
Lighting was supplied by Essential with rigging holding over 300 lamps, including one of their first uses of MAC 2000
A huge 17m x 10.5m Harkness Hall Airscreen took centre stage at two open air screenings during the revived Cambridge Film Festival. Shown as part of the Festival’s first run Children’s Film Festival, the highlight of the week long programme of events took place on two consecutive evenings with free screenings of Disney’s immensely popular ‘Toy Story 2’ and Aardman Animation’s smash hit ‘Chicken Run’, which entertained audiences of some 5,000 late into the night. Registering another first for the Festival, ‘Chicken Run’ was shown in a special subtitled version, making it the biggest screening ever to take place for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.
The Airscreen, a giant inflatable frame incorporating a projection surface from Harkness Hall, was rigged and de-rigged for each show in a little over 25 minutes. A powered air pump quickly inflated the PVC frame, which was anchored by guy ropes to four water-filled ballast weights. No other supporting structure was required. Outdoor screenings have been a speciality of the Cambridge Festival and technicians from the Festival's umbrella organisation, City Screen, are regularly called upon by other organisations for their expertise in this area, so it is with particular pride that the Festival returns with such a spectacular event.
Revived this summer, in association with the Independent, the Film Festival provided Cambridge and its regions with the full wealth and breadth of cinema - from the very big with screenings in widescreen 70mm, to the not so big in the Shor
Unitek are going head to head with the other giants of LED high resolution displays with the launch of a screen destined to put the company in pole position. Shown for the first time at Infocomm Europe, the MEGASCREEN MS5/10 using VHR technology, will be Unitek’s first very high resolution display designed specifically for the rental market. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and offering full colour, superb clarity, high brightness and close viewing distances both inside and outside in full daylight.
Unitek’s unique VHR technology processing ensures the image sharpness is sustained across a wide range of viewing distances. Horizontal viewing angles are in excess of 160° with precision LED alignment ensuring a consistent performance across all panels without ‘tiling’ effects. Unitek has taken the unique approach of offering lamp-type LEDs rather than surface-mount technology (SMT) devices, squeezing three full-size oval LEDs into each 10mm square pixel, thus being able to offer a light output in excess of 5000 nits from weatherproof modules, with perfect colour balancing ability and rear access for maintenance. Other inherent problems associated with SMT devices such as heat dissipation are also eliminated.
Newly formed CT London - the Exhibition and Multimedia Services Division of Creative Technology - held its official open day and new building launch on 26 July. A major development for the Avesco Group, the new 8500sq.ft premises in Chessington, Surrey, are home to 20 staff, including technical crew, covering hire and project management. The new facility includes offices and is also a showroom and warehouse for its Multimedia and IT hardware range.
CT London provides PC and IT rental equipment, including networking and internet services - specifically aimed at the exhibition market and other live events. CT’s product base incorporates data display technology - including flat LCD screens, touch screens, plasma screens and indoor LED modules. A clear opportunity to exhibit the features and capabilities of their large indoor LED screens, the open day gave centre stage to the new Barco iLite 6, which as a result of its high resolution is suitable for indoor exhibition environments. Another feature of the day included a specifically prepared Dataton Watchout presentation - using image manipulation techniques on eight synchronised Plasma screens.
For those visitors new to PLASA or simply keen to remind themselves how impressive last year’s event was, the Show website now features a virtual tour of last year’s PLASA Show. The tour takes in various elements of the exhibition with views from both the lower and top decks. By clicking on any of the green circles featured, visitors can look at the show floor in 3D and also explore other facilities at Earls Court 1.
PLASA’s Standards Office is appealing for help from the industry. The office is currently reviewing a number of standards-related issues and would value feedback and input from the industry in general, but PLASA Members in particular. Current topics under review include the Event Stewarding Standard - a new British Standard is to be written; EN 55103 - the EMC standard for audio, video and lighting control systems is under revision; EN 60598-2-17 - the electrical safety standard for stage and studio luminaries is to be revised. Also being reviewed at the moment is the Draft Revised EMC Directive - the European Commission's proposed revision and the ESTA Power Cabling Survey - which examines the usage of single conductor feeder cables. If you have an interest in any of these issues, please e-mail Tim Cox at the PLASA Standards Office on email@example.com.
Following successful sales of its Megascreen product into the screen rental and advertising markets, Unitek is planning major investment in further product development, marketing and the appointment of strategic partners in its key market areas.
To strengthen and advise the Board, Philip Parker, an experienced quoted company chairman and CEO, joins Unitek as a non-executive director. Parker has a broad business background in sectors as varied as IT, electronics, training, financial services, security, oil services and consulting. He has led public and private enterprises, been involved in both venture capital and public equity fund raising and is experienced in corporate strategy, restructuring and focusing on shareholder value.
After graduating from Cambridge with a law degree he worked for 15 years in the computer industry - initially with IBM and then Sperry Univac, for the most part in the US. He and his family returned to the UK in the early eighties where he ran the European operations of Gulf & Western’s computer training and consulting group. During this time he completed the strategic marketing programme at Harvard Business School’s summer campus in Switzerland. He then joined Plessey where he became Group Director of Corporate Development involved in strategy, restructuring and M&A work. In 1990 he was appointed Chief Executive of North Sea Assets, one of the UK’s few quoted oil services groups, which over a period of five years he repositioned and sold at a healthy premium for shareholders.
In recent years, Parker has acted as an indepe
On Saturday 14 July, London’s Hyde Park once again played host to the legendary Luciano Pavarotti for his ‘Picnic in the Park’, produced by Solo. He was joined by guest stars Vanessa Mae, Russell Watson and Charlotte Church and sang to an 80,000-strong audience. The event, backed by Safeway, was set to raise £1 million for charity. Three Lighthouse screens augmented the main stage screens, providing downfield video reinforcement. All the screens were provided by Screenco, in conjunction with French audio visual company Lumison. The central delay screen comprised 5 x 5 panels of Lighthouse LVP20 20mm pixel pitch modules with video delay provided by Screenco, with two further Lighthouse delay screens left and right using processors provided by Lumison and overseen by Lumison’s chief technician, Pierre Heyligen. The left and right stage screens were Screenco 15mm LEDs - showing images provided by Black Pig.
Screenco project manager Giles Conte, commented: "Screenco has always been associated with the highest quality images and the team were very impressed with the Lighthouse product." Lighthouse’s Graham Burgess added: "We were proud to be associated with this event and Screenco’s contribution to it, and happy that it raised £1 million for charity."
A major collaboration between companies within the Avesco Group has resulted in large stocks of leading-edge equipment from their respective inventories being shipped to Le Bourget Airport for the Paris Air Show. The newly-created Creative Technology London - set up specifically to provide trade show AV and IT solutions - had a presence on 10 stands and chalets after being contracted by exhibition production company, Photobition Ltd.
CT Hire Manager, Matthew Hunter, explained: "Having gauged the basic specifications and requirements from their clients, Photobition passed this information onto us, and we worked it into the most cost-effective way to apply the technology." For the first time they fielded the new 24in Samsung widescreen LCD screen. "Essentially it was being driven by an aviation-specific piece of software on the Motorola stand, and being video and data oriented, allowed it to behave totally unlike the conventional flat screens." The particular piece of software utilizes data and video display in side-by-side picture-by-picture or picture-in-picture options on the one panel. The Samsung TFT screens were used in the Motorola display and for the US Dept of Defence, while CT-London in turn called on the resources of CT’s head office in Wandsworth to service the Aviation World’s Fair, for whom they installed a videowall. "In all, we used plasma, LCD and videowall displays," remarked Hunter. "So there was plenty of technology on view."
Plasma screens manifested themselves in the form of the Sony 42in PFM-42B1E
When Luminar Leisure CEO, Stephen Thomas, contacted consultant and solution provider Ivor Green with the brief to help him use available technology to differentiate his company from its competition, he quickly produced an audio-visual blueprint that would be future-proof. Luminar’s successful brand models, reflected in the company’s current share price, is no better encapsulated than in the evolving concept of Life, their year-old bar, restaurant and dance concept, which began life in Cardiff. Ivor Green has developed a long relationship with the Luton-based company during its growth cycle and now - as Ivor Green & Associates - he is specifying dnp’s leading-edge rear-projection new wide angle optical rear projection screens, distributed in the UK by Paradigm Audio Visual, as the way forward.
This month, using a unique rig that cuts down installation space, two 6ft screens were sited at Life in Romford and a further three at Life, Taunton - run in conjunction with Sony VPL-PX31 projectors - thus keeping the company right in the fast track of technology. Ivor Green has been a devotee of dnp New Wide Angle since installing five 8ft screens side by side in Manchester’s Printworks. He says that while the buildings earmarked for conversion to Life may be extremely different there is now a minimum requirement for two dnp New Wide Angle Screens as standard.
The use of the dnp rearpro screens is about setting specific moods, by displaying high-res images in order to give the room a theme. This can include people, music video and even rugby matches. In Ro
The PLASA Show, London’s leading entertainment technology event, represents far more than just an arena from which to see the latest developments and innovations within the entertainment technology industry. It also offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about how to use this technology to best effect through its Masterclass Programme. This year, the Masterclass Programme, which runs from the Monday to the Wednesday, will focus on the fields of special effects, architectural installations and audio and corporate presentations and will include an impressive line-up of speakers, all of whom are experts in their specific fields.
Tuesday 11th September 2001, Theme and Leisure Day of the Masterclass Programme is a ‘must’ for visitors interested in learning how, through imaginative design and intelligent production techniques, special effects can be utilised in live entertainment to have maximum effect on the audience. There will be three presentations during the course of the day dealing with different aspects of this vibrant sector.
PLASA welcomes American WOW!Works chief effects artist, Tylor Wymer, an industry leader in pyrotechnics and special effects engineering and the former special effects design director for Walt Disney Entertainment, who will host an exciting session called, ‘Special Effects Ignite The Senses - Putting the Wow! Into Your Productions’. Highlights will include a fun and interactive overview by Mr Wymer in the areas of pyrotechnics, confetti, fog/haze, snow/wind/rain and the new trends in scent technology.
The organisers of Entech 2002 have released preliminary details relating to next year’s event, which takes place from February 4-6 at Darling Harbour in Sydney. The visitor programme includes keynote summits for audio, vision and lighting practitioners on 4 February. The summits will cap the opening day’s educational programme set to feature new format seminars held in the lecture facilities within the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Center. Day One features a Venue Design Forum, an afternoon session with leading lighting designers, two pro audio seminars and a vision/video seminar.
Additional events on Day One include a rigging workshop, an opening day reception on the rooftop at closing time and Mark Cunningham’s famous pop quiz at sundown. A complete programme of events, including the sixth and largest Entech Awards Dinner, will be released ahead of an extensive visitor campaign starting in October.
To complement the exhibition, PLASA has lined up a range of seminars, workshops and clinics that will give an insight into how new technology is creating new opportunities, how individuals have pulled together highly complex projects, why integration is so important and how you can achieve more by picking up tips and techniques from others.
DJs can learn more about MP3 digitally-compressed music files and how this new technology is already creating a platform for a more creative approach. In a programme of seminars sponsored by Installation Europe, audio installation and integration is the theme under which issues of networking, control and the benefits of converging technologies are explored. Tuesday sees a Theme and Leisure Masterclass, presented by Leisure Management, in association with the TEA and TiLE, which focuses on how the leisure industry exploits special effects, lighting and audio technology to create unique environments to enhance the visitor experience. On Wednesday, the sessions move to consider the integration of audio and lighting into building design, the regulations facing those who install lighting, the increasing profile of new media such as LED technology, and the basics of video conferencing.
For the first time, you can also attend any number of focused courses, workshops and clinics. The ISCE is sponsoring three sessions covering the issues associated with audio system design, whilst Loughborough College and the AETTI are jointly promoting a series of courses which offer those interested in theatre a chance to work towards BTEC certification. Al
Screenco’s historic manifestation of random LED daylight screens as a light source, first shown at The Illuminated Video Workshop presentation at Three Mills Island studios recently, were hurriedly and unexpectedly recreated at Hyde Park for Ricky Martin’s lunchtime set at Capital Radio’s Party in the Park 2001, in aid of the Prince’s Trust.
The combination of an adventurous set designer and the opportunism of Screenco’s project manager, Giles Conte and Solo’s Mark Ward, resulted in the 10 spare 15mm LED daylight screens not required for the main i-mag display, being batched randomly on Martin’s stage risers and used as a light graphics source. "Ricky Martin’s designers generally use plasma screens, but at 12.30 in the afternoon they wouldn’t have been bright enough," explained Conte. "So we hurriedly shipped in another Saco processor and engineering rack, and took the camera feed from Black Pig’s Chris Saunders." The screens - configured in blocks of two and rows of three - formed part of the circular stage revolve. "As the stage came round into view it meant we had to strike the graphic images quickly," said Conte. "It was very manic but very arty."
Again echoing Three Mills Island, Screenco’s main centre display was manoeuvred up and down on a Stage One motor system while two 30sq.m 25mm portrait screens, positioned stage left and right, also moved vertically on conventional motors, with the images cut by video director, Matt Askem. Due to the vast size of the s
Booking your tickets to the PLASA Show, the entertainment technology industry’s leading event, running from 9-12 September 2001 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London, has never been easier. You can now book in any of the following ways:
By Telephone: The Visitor Hotline is now live! Call +44 (0) 870 429 4472 to make your credit card booking or to request an advance booking form.
Online: Go direct to www.plasa.org/show/register to book online.
There are many advantages to pre-registration. Not only will you save £6 on the cost of entry to the Show (tickets on the door are £12) but you will be sent a personalized badge in advance permitting you fast entry into the show. You will also receive up-to-date information on the Show’s Masterclass Programme and how to book your seat at any of the sessions. Entry to the show is free for overseas visitors.
Now in its 24th year, the PLASA Show will feature over 350 exhibitors - manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of professional lighting, sound and AV equipment for the performing arts, night venues and theme bars, concerts and touring, the DJ market, architectural installation, corporate presentations, amusements and attractions, recording studios, cruise liners, TV and film, educational and religious establishments.
David Plail has joined MCL London as head of project management, bringing with him 28 years of industry experience. David comes to MCL from FrameSet Products, a company that he founded over 10 years ago, dedicated to the design, build and supply of diverse conference staging products. "Some people may think it a strange decision," said Plail, "to move away from FrameSet when it is such a successful company. But MCL is a young company with incredible backing from Avesco and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. In the end it was an easy choice to make. It puts me right back into the industry mainstream and will draw heavily on what I have learnt over the years. I am looking forward to the challenge."
In his new role, Plail will be drawing together all existing elements of project management at MCL London and will fine-tune current practices to ensure the continued efficiency and quality of output to MCL clients - from information to technical solutions. "David’s experience will add to the team in the South, and the offer nationally," said Mike Bell, managing director of MCL London, "providing our project managers with support and advice on a day-to-day basis. His diverse background in all areas of live events will be invaluable."
Screenco has met a production requirement from leading communications agency, Skybridge, for a large, bright mobile screen, to service a series of Channel 4 parties around the UK to celebrate their association with test cricket. Called C4 Summer Tour, the curtain raiser to the England v Australia series took place on July 6 with a beach party in Brighton featuring Fatboy Slim and Groove Armada, and project-managed by Skybridge technical director Lee Eld. In Brighton, the Fatboy Slim set was filmed for a Channel 4 special, transmitted the following week. Screenco provided a trailer-mounted 40sq.m Jumbotron JTS35 CRT daylight video display - the largest of their mobile systems. Lee Eld explained that this year’s tour was the result of a similar series of successful events they carried out for Channel 4 last year. "Working with artistic director and producer, Alex Poots, we have come up with the infrastructure and staging. There are two V-dosc PA towers and a little 8m x 4m stage for the DJ - but the whole event is really based around the big screen."
Production for each event builds up on the day before the five-day tests, which start on a Thursday. The programming incorporates a free-to-air screening of the cricket during the hours of play on each day, followed by a dance party on the Friday evening and a Film 4 film show on the Saturday. The Jumbotron takes VT feeds from live camera relay, satellite transmission of the cricket action and Beta playback of the films and the graphics.Commented Lee Eld: "I have a strong relationship with Screenco; they ar
PLASA has worked in co-operation with some of London’s leading entertainment venues to offer an exclusive insight into the workings of some of the city’s most famous venues; this exclusive backstage tour immediately follows the close of the PLASA Show in London this September. Theatrical London delegates will visit the world-renowned Royal Albert Hall for a night at the Proms; the Apollo Victoria Theatre to see the upgraded Starlight Express; Tussaud’s Group Studios for an exclusive technical tour, and the Donmar Warehouse for a ‘Divas at the Donmar’ performance. To top it off, you can step back in time at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre . . .
Wednesday 12th September: The experience begins with A night at The Proms, The Royal Albert Hall, featuring Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring. Pre-show drinks will be served in the foyer. Performance starts at 7.30pm.
Thursday 13th September: This busy day starts with a coach-ride from Earls Court to The Royal Albert Hall for a guided technical tour of this famous venue, before moving on to the Apollo Victoria Theatre for a guided backstage tour of the recently-upgraded Starlight Express. Following lunch, travel by coach to the Tussauds Group Studios for an exclusive to PLASA tour of the facilities behind the Group’s famous visitor attractions, before visiting Madame Tussaud’s in Baker Street, with an option to go on to the London Planetarium. After a short break, delegates meet up at the Donmar Warehouse, with a tour and performance of Divas at The Donmar featuring Sian Philips. Drinks wil
Show Presentation Services (SPS), the leading equipment rental and staging specialist, has announced that it increased its turnover from £8m to £13m over 2000, and achieved a 58% increase in pre-tax profits for the same period, as a direct result of its integrated event services strategy. The results reinforce SPS’s position as a leading independent AV rental and staging business. High business growth rates were achieved by the scenic construction and lighting rental departments in particular, of 241% and 148% respectively. SPS’s investment in a Barco D-Lite7 Modular LED screen was validated by the turnover generated with the successful launch of its LED rental business. A part-year contribution from the Earls Court and Olympia AV contract that commenced its five-year term also boosted SPS’s increase.
"This year has seen more challenging business conditions," acknowledges Robin Coles, managing director of SPS. "The first half of 2001 has been flatter than we anticipated but the launch of our new Event IT division in February, is adding positively to our already comprehensive service offering. We are seeking booking levels increase for the second half of the year, and an impending strategic acquisition will consolidate our position as the leading independent AV rental and staging business in the UK."
Creative Technology hosted a major launch for the new Barco iLite 6 high resolution indoor product at Tiger Tiger in London’s West End, in a showcase that saw many leading production companies and agencies throughout the UK having a chance to see the system for the first time.
Called ‘the video plate’ it is Barco’s response to the growing market demand for indoor high-resolution daylight displays. The iLite 6 takes the achievements of SMD technology (three colours in one) and builds on them, offering a 6mm resolution with an extremely high light output, colour uniformity, contrast, flexibility - and seamless pictures. Each panel weighs 28lbs, and with a depth of just 5in, the iLite 6 is rated at a light output of over 2000 NIT. Creative Technology has already debuted the modular system on both sides of the Atlantic - at ITN’s purpose-built election studio in Holborn, and the E3 electronic games show Los Angeles - but this was the first opportunity for many prospective users to view it at close quarters.
In CT’s hire fleet the Barco iLite 6 will complement Lighthouse Technologies’ LVP-102D 10mm screen, which is ideal for larger conventions and exhibitions where audiences are viewing from a distance. While the i6's greatly increased resolution makes it ideal for smaller video screen sizes (down to 2.5sq.m) visitors were also able to witness the high quality graphics representation on the larger display at Tiger Tiger. The modular format also allows unusually-shaped screen displays to be integrated within the geometric of the over
Larry Sider founded the School of Sound four years ago, creating a forum that united a diverse collection of individuals involved in all aspects of film, AV and multi-media sound production - for a lively interchange of experiences and ideas.
Sider’s own background is in film: Chicago born, he went to film school at NorthWestern University and has worked as a sound designer and editor for 25 years. He settled in the UK in 1979, and in addition to his sound and film work, teaches and lectures on various audiological topics at various academies, including the Royal College of Art and the National Film & Television School.
The fourth School of Sound annual symposium was held this year at the Royal Scottish College of Dramatic Art, Glasgow. The four-day event attracted over 180 people from 15 countries and included presentations and talks by those at the leading edge of the arts and media involved in moving image. Speakers included radical film director Nic Roeg, composer and sound artist Hans Peter Kuhn, producer Bob Last, head of the Medici String Quartet Paul Robertson, musician and composer David Toop and many more.
This year’s School of Sound focused on music for the moving image, and the themes were diverse, ranging from exploration of the blurring boundaries between truth and fiction, through sound effects and music, to the use of sound in classic movies. One of the many highlights was producer Bob Last, who explained the complexities of hiring composers for films - often involving three or four, who may or may not contribute to the soundtrack, with the
The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has defeated the UK Government at the European Court of Justice over the UK’s implementation of the Working Time Directive. The UK’s Working Time Regulations 1998, which implements the Directive, entitles workers to a minimum of 20 days paid leave each year. But employees are not entitled to the leave until they have completed a qualifying period of 13 continuous weeks with the same employer. This means that many freelance and contract workers who work for less than 13 weeks have been denied a right to take paid leave.
BECTU launched a legal challenge to the UK legislation and on 26 June 2001 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) accepted the opinion of the Advocate General of the ECJ, which stated that national governments may not exclude groups of workers from the rights that the directive gives them. The judgment effectively extends the entitlement to paid leave to all workers from their first day of employment. Later the same day the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which is responsible for the Working Time Regulations, announced an urgent consultation on regulations to amend those already in place and corresponding guidance. The amended Regulations will not mean that workers will be able to take four weeks paid leave from their first day of employment, but if the employment ends during the first 13 weeks they will be able to claim for leave which has been accrued but not taken during this period. The consultation will propose a system of accrual, providing one-twelfth of the ann