Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 12:56 UK

Reality stars win workers' rights

By Alasdair Sandford
BBC News, Paris

L'Ile de la Tentation (Temptation Island)
The producers said the ruling would cause upheaval for TV reality shows

Contestants in a French television reality show have won the right to be treated as employed workers entitled to overtime payments and other benefits.

The Cour de Cassation upheld an earlier decision after a case brought by three people who appeared in L'Ile de la Tentation (Temptation Island).

The contestants are now entitled to 11,000 euros (£9,500) in compensation.

The programme followed couples who were separated on a tropical island, where single people attempted to seduce them.

'Illicit practices'

Thursday's ruling confirmed the principle that the contestants were not merely being tested by the advances of the opposite sex on a sun-drenched island off the Mexican coast - they were also working.

Production companies can no longer use individuals like they have been doing for years, making them do whatever they want 24 hours a day
Jeremie Assous
Lawyer for contestants

"Temptation Island constitutes a job and therefore justifies an employment contract," the court said. "Tempting a person of the opposite sex requires concentration and attention."

The decision means the participants are entitled to all the benefits of a full employment contract, including a 35-hour week.

The three contestants, who had taken part in the show on the private TV channel, TF1, were awarded 11,000 euros each in compensation, including 8,176 euros in overtime, 817 euros for being denied a holiday, 500 euros for unfair dismissal, and 1,500 euros for the wrongful termination of their contracts.

The head of the production company, TF1 Production, said the decision would cause upheaval for TV reality shows.

Another executive said programmes like the French equivalent of Big Brother would not be the same if they could only film seven hours a day with a day off each week.

But the contestants' lawyer, who is also involved in several other cases, said the ruling spelt the end for illicit practices.

"Production companies can no longer use individuals like they have been doing for years, making them do whatever they want 24 hours a day," Jeremie Assous said.

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