The work permit criteria for classical musicians are set out below. These criteria were agreed following consultation with the Musicians Union (MU) in October 2007. This criteria sheet is supplementary guidance to the published employer guidance notes and both sets of guidance should be referred to when making an application.
- Work permits will only be issued to musicians who have performed at the highest level, for example roles such as lead musician of a section of an orchestra.
- We will consult with the MU on every occasion for full-time musicians (regardless of position) and conductors where a thorough resident search has not been carried out and in cases where the salary is low. This is to establish that employing this individual will not displace resident workers and to confirm the level of the role. Please note that any consultation with the MU may take up to seven working days.
Full-time orchestral appointments
- Where an application has been made for a musician or conductor who has not previously held a work permit, publicity material in the form of press reviews, past programmes or CD/cassette credits must be supplied. This should normally be from within the last two years.
- Full-time musicians (i.e. those playing in the main body of the orchestra as opposed to section principals) are not normally issued with work permits as the MU have advised that resident labour is available to fill such positions.
- We may require contracts to be provided with the application.
Whole orchestras (unit companies)
As these are usually group applications, rather than establishing each member with individual publicity material we require the following evidence to be supplied:
- previous publicity material on the orchestra name as a whole (unless it is well-known);
- a letter from the orchestra itself, on letter-headed notepaper, which names all its musicians. We will accept this as the orchestra itself will actually be set up as a company, and its members are permanent, not just individuals employed to play in one particular concert;
- evidence that the company have regularly toured together, including in their own country. This may include contracts of employment to show that the individual/s have been a permanent part of the unit company; and
- we may also require signed contracts and venue confirmations.
Advertising for full time conductors or musicians
If an application is submitted for a full time conductor, musician, a section principal, or musicians also undertaking solo work (i.e. any full-time musician regardless of position), the following additional information should be supplied:
- proof of advertising, which must be from a recognised national newspaper or relevant trade journal which has full European Economic Area (EEA) circulation. A copy of the full page of the advertisement should be provided, showing the title and date of the publication; and
- a list of all applicants auditioned and rejected, together with individual reasons as to why they were unsuccessful.
Where applications are for one off 'guest' appearances with United Kingdom orchestras (these may be musicians of any level or conductors), the advertisement requirements may be waived. It will not normally be necessary for us to consult with the MU for such applications.
Length of issue
- We normally give approval for the period as stated on the contract, up to a maximum period of five years.
Payment should be commensurate with the MU list on acceptable salary levels for the type of work to be undertaken. Underpayment can indicate that the post offered is not of the standard for which a work permit should be issued. The salary should also meet the minimum wage requirements.