Offering pay rates as 'per day' with no guarantee is a dangerous practice that can easily lead to a liability lawsuit against an employer. (Like this one. Or this one.)
To help encourage compliance with Federal and state wage laws, TiM only permits day rates for employees affiliated with certain unions (for example, DGA and SAG-AFTRA). Otherwise, non-exempt employees should be hourly and exempt employees should be weekly.
Certain job descriptions are allowed to be processed by the payroll company as exempt, but most are not.
For more information:
- Reach out to your payroll coordinator or paymaster and determine which job descriptions you can classify as exempt, along with any questions you have about calculating hourly rates.
- Once you have those answers, email firstname.lastname@example.org and a TiM agent will walk you through how to input the rates into TiM in a way that will allow you to be in line with what your payroll company says.
NOTE: It is the production's responsibility to make sure employee rates are within federal and state regulations.
Why Day Rates are so dangerous:
If an employee agrees to a rate per day without specifying a guaranteed number of hours, the employee could potentially work so many hours that their hourly rate drops below federal minimum wage, especially in light of federal and state overtime regulations.
Let's say that an employee working in California agrees to a rate of $180 per day, and ends up working 18 hours.
That rate does not break down to $10 per hour.
In California, it's state law that overtime must be paid after 8 hours, at a rate of 1.5x the regular hourly rate up until 12 hours, and 2x the regular hourly rate after 12 hours.
With overtime factored in, $180 for 18 hours in California means the employee's regular hourly rate is $6.923. That is well below California's minimum wage.
For instructions on how to calculate an hourly rate, see: How to calculate a pay hour in TiM
What are the regulations regarding overtime?
Overtime laws differ from state to state, and from the federal to state level.
As described in the example above, in California, overtime kicks in after 8 hours of work in a day. In New York, however, overtime kicks in after 40 hours of work in a week, which is the same as Federal overtime regulations.
Many unions have contractual obligations in place that require employers to pay union members overtime after a set amount of hours, at a set rate. But for non-union employees, misunderstood wage regulations can cause a lot of headaches.
Do you know the wage laws that apply to you?
Whether you are an employer or an employee, it is important to know what wage laws apply to you. Do you know the answer to the following questions:
Will you be paid according to the laws of the state in which you work, the state in which you reside, or the state that your Project's Company is based out of?
Most of the time, you will be paid according to the laws of the state where you work. However, not every state has that mandate, and therefore an employee would be paid according to the laws of the state where they live, or what state the Project they're working on is based out of.
How many hours in a day must I work before overtime kicks in?
In California, overtime kicks in after 8 hours of work in a day. In New York, however, overtime kicks in after 40 hours of work in a week. The regulations in New York mimic Federal overtime regulations. Visit your state's Department of Labor website to find out what overtime laws apply to you.
At what rate will I be paid overtime?
Federal overtime regulations stipulate that overtime must be paid at 1.5x the regular hourly rate. Some states, however, require a higher rate of pay after a certain amount of hours. Visit your state's Department of Labor website to find out what overtime laws apply to you.
If you are unsure of the answers to any of these questions (and the like!), TiM encourages you to do a quick google search, for example: "Department of Labor [state where you work]" or "Overtime laws in... " or "minimum wage in...".
Transparency between employer and employee = Less lawsuits.
Skeptical that your hourly rate could drop below the required minimum wage?
All of us in the entertainment industry know that, especially when a Project is in production, our days can be very long. A twelve hour day is typical. A fifteen hour day is common. And sometimes, especially if a Project is shooting to meet a deadline, even twenty hour days aren't unheard of.
We do our best to predict and plan a production's schedule. But the elements are unpredictable...
... What if a discontinuity is discovered in the script and an hour is spent rewriting a scene? What if rain clouds suddenly roll in and the crew has to wait for the weather to clear? What if the antique picture car that defines a scene malfunctions? What if the camera truck takes a wrong exit during a company move and ends up sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for two hours? What if half the crew develops violent food poisoning due to questionable eggs served at breakfast?
(FYI - all of these examples really happened. This author was a set PA for five years.)
All kinds of unexpected delays can occur during production, which can add many hours to the crew's work week.
Since the amount of hours an employee may work can be unpredictable, it is best practice to offer an hourly rate to production employees. Offering hourly rates ensures that employees are aware of their rate at time of hire and compensated within state regulations.
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