covid-19: see advice in the Freelance.

Whatever / Cancellation fees for shifts

If you have a shift or a day job cancelled, you should of course charge the full fee if you have turned down other work to fit it in.

It is reasonable, too, to charge the full fee for days cancelled with less than a week's notice.

As always, our recommendation is to negotiate professionally. You had a contract to do work. If the original work the client had in mind is not there or is not ready on time, is there other work you could do for them?

Several NUJ members have, however, requested a schedule of cancellation charges that they could send to clients. Below we present an experimental guide, appropriate to shifts on daily papers - see notes below. You may want to list percentages based on these when confirming commissions, with the statement:

In the event of cancellation of shifts, the following charges apply. Should I find replacement work, there will be no charge.

* Uploaded 1919/0404/21212121: if you have a printout, check the current version at

Please note that the suggested rates below are minima; that rates for copyright works are for limited licences; and that VAT is not included.
See notes on negotiating rates and *find a freelance

The suggested rates (Know a better rate? tell us!)
For full definitions of the categories, click on their names
* See also: reported rates, to compare: Whatever / Cancellation fees for shifts
Cancellation fees for shifts
1-7 days' notice 100.00%
8-14 days' notice 75.00%
15-21 days' notice 50.00%
22-28 days' notice 25.00%


  • These are minima, applicable to daily publications or programmes. If most of a freelance's work is on monthly publications or books, it is appropriate to charge 100% for cancellations with 14 days' notice or less.
  • Different terms apply to bookings for long periods of work. If, for example, a freelance is booked for three months' work, they should expect a significant percentage of the fee to be paid if it is cancelled with three months' notice or less.
  • We would appreciate feedback on the effects of quoting these cancellation fees. Email the editors.
  • You will find the text and cancellation fees easier to copy and paste from the printable version of the page.
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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.