The subject of overtime has come up a lot the last few days, and one storyboard artist said to me: "Could you please put up a post about how overtime works? I keep forgetting". So here is your short tutorial for today.
If you're working as an hourly employee under the TAG contract, then you get:
Straight time for the first eight hours worked of the first five days of the workweek (generally Monday through Friday).
Time and a half for the ninth to fourteenth hours during those first five days (and you're supposed to take two meal breaks).
Double time for the fifteenth through twenty-fourth hours (if you or the studio are masochistic/sadistic enough to work 25 hours in a row, the twenty-fifth hour returns you to straight time ...
A couple of other small but delightful points. Under Federal labor law, there are two classifications of employees -- exempt and non-exempt.
If you work in an exempt labor category, then your employer isn't required to pay overtime. (Exempt categories include "professional", "creative" and "supervisory.")
I'm not going to get into all the permutations of "exempt" since I don't want to turn this into a Wikipedia entry. But for animation employees, the areas of exemption from o.t. include designers, layout artists, and storyboard artists, also supervisors. (This doesn't apply to animation employees working under a labor contract.)
"Non-exempt" employees would include animators, timing directors, and any artists who were revising or reworking previously-existing images. ("Animators" are specifically listed as non-exempt in the federal labor code -- they're working with those existing images.)
In the real world, there are many ways companies do overtime work-arounds. At Disney Animation Studio, to use one example, they've gone to a hard 45-hour workweek (five hours of pre-paid overtime) and cut salaries. DreamWorks has had a fifty-hour workweek (ten hours of pre-paid overtime) for years.
And many studios practice the "free overtime" business model, which goes as follows:
The production manager comes up and says:
"We need this storyboard by next Friday, and we don't have any money for overtime in the budget."
The second half of the preceding sentence technically has nothing to do with the first part, but it signals to the employee that any request for overtime authorization by said employee will be looked upon in the same way as if the employee drops trou and defecates in the main hallway.
So most employees don't ask.
But hey, there's a lot of this going around ... so here's your Captain Renault* moment:
Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says
Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage, according to a new study based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The study, the most comprehensive examination of wage-law violations in a decade, also found that 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week.
“We were all surprised by the high prevalence rate,” said Ruth Milkman, one of the study’s authors and a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the City University of New York. The study, to be released on Wednesday, was financed by the Ford, Joyce, Haynes and Russell Sage Foundations.
*As played by the incomparable Claude Raines in Casablanca.