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2021 Laws Affecting Crew: Paid Sick Leave and More

Original publish date: January 8, 2021

A number of labor laws pertinent to production companies and their crew were updated recently, both at the state and federal levels. Paid sick leave and family leave were the main subjects of the legislation, some having to do with COVID-19 but others provisions regarding leave accrual and usage in general for employees – including production crew.

Paid Sick Leave

New York State Sick Leave

The New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) law went into effect September 30, 2020, requiring employers to provide sick leave to employees as of January 1, 2021. The amount of NYSSL crew employees will be entitled to accrue and use varies by production company employer size and income. NYSSL will accrue at a rate of 1 hour of every 30 hours worked or employers have the option to frontload sick hours at the beginning of the year.

Additional information is available at the ny.gov website

Paid Sick Leave in New York City, Amended September 2020

The New York City Earned Sick and Safe Time Act (“ESSTA”) was amended in order to better align with the NYSSL.

The amount of paid safe and sick leave employees are permitted to accrue and use now align with NYSSL, with amounts varying by employer size and income. The amendment to ESSTA included an elimination of the 120-day waiting period for new hires to utilize accrued leave, removal of the requirement that employees work in the City more than 80 hours in a year and the addition of new pay statement reporting requirements each pay period.  

Learn more about NYC’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Act here.

Paid Sick Leave in Colorado, Effective July 2020

The Colorado Governor signed a Paid Sick Leave Act into law, which went into effect last July and required all employers in the state, regardless of size, to provide each of their employees paid sick leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the amounts and for the purposes specified in the federal “Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act” in the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”.

Starting January 1, 2021, for employers with 16 or more employees, the act requires employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, accrued at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year. Employers have the option to frontload sick hours at the beginning of the year.

Additional information about Colorado Paid Sick Leave Act.

COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave in California

Beginning September 19, 2020, California implemented COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave requirements. The provision expired at the end of 2020, but was revived with changes in January 2021.

While this used to apply only to employers with 500 or more employees nationwide, the provision now applies to all California employers.

Production company employers must provide COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave if an employee leaves home for work and is unable to work for any of the following reasons: (1) employee is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, (2) employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to COVID-19, or (3) employee is prohibited from working by their hiring entity due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Return to Work Agreement with DGA, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and Teamsters/Basic Crafts

Starting September 21, 2020, and currently continuing through April 30, 2021, the Return to Work (RTW) Agreement gives protocols and guiding principles to safely resume filming in workplaces redesigned around workers health. The RTW Agreement also includes COVID-19 sick leave and quarantine pay requirements that the Cast & Crew family of companies have implemented systematically and applied per client directive.

Contact the AMPTP or your local union for additional information.

Paid Family Leave 

Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave

On June 25, 2019, Connecticut passed legislation to create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave insurance program. The Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) provides paid time off to employees working in Connecticut who need to care for their own or a family member’s medical condition, to care for a child after birth, adoption or foster placement, to serve as an organ or bone marrow donor, to address certain matters relating to family violence or to address exigencies arising from foreign deployment of a related service-member. 

The program is funded by employees through payroll deductions. The total deduction rate is 0.5 percent of an employee’s annual earnings, capped at the Social Security contribution limit. Deductions were set to begin January 1, 2021, and benefits become available to employees beginning in January 2022.  

Download information about Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

Paid Leave

Paid Leave in Maine Effective January 2021

As of January 1, 2021, private employers with more than 10 employees in Maine for more than 120 days in a calendar year must provide 1 hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year. This leave may be used for any reason. A maximum of 40 leave hours may be carried over, with a maximum use of 40 hours per year.

New employees must wait 120 days before using accrued leave.

Download information about Maine’s Earned Paid Leave Rule.

Recent State & Local Laws Affecting Production Crew

California SB 973, Effective September 2020 

On September 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 973 in a continued effort to reduce gender and racial pay gaps. In California, private employers that have 100 or more employees, and that are required to file an annual Employer Information Report under federal law, will now be required to submit a pay data report to the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) that contains specified wage information by March 31, 2021. As a payroll provider, we can provide the reporting data we have for production employees to our Clients for their submittal to the DFEH.

Read up on SB 973 here.  

California SB 1383 Amending CFRA, Effective January 2021 

California has added a sweeping amendment to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) effective January 1, 2021. The CFRA will now apply to employers with 5 or more employees and expands the scope of “family members” for whom employees can take leave to include many additional categories. Additional changes to the CFRA may apply and a new poster will need to be posted by January 1, 2021.

See additional changes and information about CA SB 1383.  

Seattle Payroll Expense Tax, Effective January 2021 

The Seattle City Council recently approved a new payroll expense tax which will apply to businesses operating in Seattle in 2021. The Seattle payroll expense tax is imposed using a three-tier structure determined by annual business revenue and level of employee compensation.

The tiered payroll expense tax will apply to businesses operating in Seattle with at least $7 million in annual payroll at a rate of 0.7 percent to 1.4 percent on employee salaries over $150,000 beginning on January 1, 2021.

Download more information about the Seattle Payroll Expense Tax.

Federal Labor Law Updates for Production

DoL Proposed Rule to Clarify Employee and Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), September 2020 

DOL Wage and Hour Division opinion letter proposed a rule clarifying the definition of employee under the FLSA as it relates to independent contractors, which can have a big impact on productions and how they pay their crew.

The DOL’s proposal aims to bring clarity and consistency to the determination of who is an independent contractor under the FLSA by suggesting an economic reality test containing two core factors to determine a worker’s status: (1) the nature of the work and degree of the worker’s control over the work; and (2) the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment.

See the whole proposal on independent contractor vs employee clarification from the Department of Labor.  

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEO-1

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and consistent with delays in Federal reporting requirements across the government and other actions taken to relieve employers of unnecessary burdens during this crisis, the Commission delayed the anticipated opening of the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collections to a time when the agency anticipates that filers will have resumed more normal operations.

EEO-1 filers should begin preparing to submit data in 2021. The EEOC submitted the EEO-1 Component 1 information collection to OMB for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act on March 23, 2020. Pending approval by OMB, the EEOC would expect to begin collecting the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 along with the 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 in March 2021 and will notify filers of the precise date the surveys will open as soon as it is available.

While the EEOC has not sought approval to collect EEO-1 Component 2 information for 2019, the agency has indicated on its regulatory agenda that it will continue to look at the issue, and may propose a different means of collecting and analyzing employer payment practices in the future.  The EEOC has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as to whether the lower court’s reinstatement of Component 2 was lawful in the first place. 

And of course, as administrations change, prior proposals like Component 2 may be exhumed and revisited. If EEO-1 Component 2 reporting requirements become due, as a payroll provider, we can provide the reporting data we have for production employees to our clients for their submittal to the EEOC for compliance.

Learn more about the EEOC.

Need guidance? Reach out to us here.


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