NYC Earned Sick Time Act

The New York City Earned Sick Time Act went into effect April 1, 2014. To help our clients and other production companies, we want to convey our understanding of the Act here. This is not a full accounting of the legislation, just a summary of our review of it. Please check with your legal advisors as to how the Act affects your business.

For purposes of the Act, the production company employers, and not the payroll company, are the employers of the personnel. The payroll company will not have an obligation to fund or administer required benefits under the Act, except to the extent of accounting for such time based on the personnel’s payroll records for those personnel for which we provide payroll services on behalf of your company.

The Act requires employers of five or more employees to provide paid sick leave to full and part time employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year. Such employers are to provide a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year. However, employers with five to 19 employees will receive a grace period until October 1, 2014. Employers with fewer than five employees are required to provide sick time, but it need not be paid.

The sick time begins to accrue on either April 1, 2014, or the commencement of employment, whichever is later of the two. Employees may begin to utilize their sick time 120 days after sick time begins to accrue. If an employee has a break in service of less than six months, the employer is required to restore any unpaid accruals of sick time to the employee upon reinstatement. However, if the employee was paid for unused sick time at the point of separation from employment, or has a longer break in service, the employee would start their accruals from scratch, except there would be no 120 day waiting period.

Employers are required to provide an employee with written notice of the employee’s rights under the Act by May 1, 2014, or at commencement of employment, whichever is later. The notice must be in English, and if other than English, the primary language spoken by the employee, provided the Department of Consumer Affairs has made available a translation of such notice in such language. Click to download the Department’s Mandatory Notice of Employee Rights. You can also read the Department’s Paid Sick Leave Frequently Asked Questions for more clarification about your responsibilities under the Earned Sick Time Act.

There are exceptions that apply to the Act, including, but not limited to, if an employer already provides its employees with time off, vacation, personal days, or days of rest that meet the requirements of the Act and that can be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions of the Act, the employer need not provide additional sick time. Additionally, if employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’) that waives the provisions of the Act and provides for “comparable benefits” in the form of “paid days off” (as defined in the Act), then the Act does not apply. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for enforcing the Act.

An employee has two years from the date the employee knew or should have known of an alleged violation to file a complaint with the Department. The Department can impose civil penalties and grant current or former employees appropriate relief, as detailed in the Act. Please note that due to the Act being so new, the Act itself is still subject to some degree of change. We are not in a position to provide you with legal or benefits-related advice concerning the application of the Act to your company.

For more detailed information concerning the Act, please visit the Department’s page about it here. Due to the various nuances and exceptions under the Act, again we strongly urge you to consult with your advisors to obtain advice about the applicability of the Act to your company and the scope of your company’s obligations under the Act, so that you can plan for the impact of the law on your business as it takes effect. Furthermore, in light of the Act, if your company has a current paid or unpaid time off policy, you need to speak with your advisors to determine whether or not your policies comply.

SAG-AFTRA Reaches Commercial Pact with Industry

Following over 7 weeks of talks, SAG-AFTRA and the Joint Policy Committee reached a tentative agreement Saturday on terms for successor agreements to the television and radio commercials contracts. The deal is subject to approval by the SAG-AFTRA National Board of Directors later this month, then a ratification vote by the membership.

“These contracts provide our members with the solid foundation they need to sustain their careers and families,” said SAG-AFTRA National Co-President and Negotiating Committee National Chair Roberta Reardon. “I am very grateful to our negotiating committee which came together and worked as one to ensure a strong contract for their sisters and brothers who work in the commercials area.”

“These negotiations have been a positive and productive continuation of our longtime partnership with commercial performers and their representatives,” said Douglas J. Wood, lead negotiator for the Joint Policy Committee which represents ad agencies and national advertisers. “I am pleased to have achieved these important industry gains in key areas and I want to thank my colleague and JPC Counsel Stacy Marcus and the other members of our negotiating team.”

The formal talks, which wrapped up in the early-morning hours of Saturday, April 6 in New York, had begun February 14. Though SAG and AFTRA just merged one year ago, they have traditionally negotiated the commercials agreement side by side.

SAG-AFTRA said no details would be released until the National Board of Directors’ review at their April 20-21 meeting.

NY Local 52 Commercial Agreement Effective 12/30/12

The upcoming new agreement between AICP commercial producers and IATSE Local 52 Studio Mechanics puts in place wage scale increases, benefit contribution rates and meal allowance increases, while also standardizing low budget agreements, adding First Aid workers to covered employees, and adding Bethpage Long Island facilities to the Studio Zone.

Current wage scales will remain in effect until December 29, when the minimum daily call will go up by $5 for one day only. Then on December 30, rates will be increased by 4% across the board, based on the December 29 minimum daily call rates. On December 1, 2013, rates will be increased again, by 2%.

Benefit contributions for employees working in the New York City Zone will have contributions made to MPIPHP at the current rate of $10.632 per hour, plus 6% of scale hourly rate to Individual Account Plans (IAP). Contributions for employees working in the Philadelphia Zone will increase to $95 per day on December 30. All employees working outside both the New York City Zone and Philadelphia Zone will have their contributions increased to $80 per day.

The deadline for AICP member companies to sign the new agreement is February 15, 2013.

Media Services Releases 3 New Apps for the Production Industry

Showbiz-Labor-Guide-AppMedia Services and Showbiz Software are proud to announce the release of three brand-new mobile apps for iPad and Android tablets. As first reported in the Hollywood Reporter, the production tools were released yesterday in conjunction with the annual Labor Guide Launch Party in Los Angeles, held at the W Hollywood.

The flagship app is the Showbiz Labor Guide, which mirrors the printed edition of the same name, but with easy touchscreen lookup of any wage rate from film and TV union agreements spanning the United States, such as IATSE, Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, DGA and WGA.

Showbiz-Labor-Guide-App-InteriorThe drill-down menu allows producers and accountants to select region, agreement and occupation code to get wage and hour minimums sorted by schedule (Daily, Weekly, On Call, etc).

The Showbiz Directory app is a standalone mobile database of entertainment industry vendors and crew members in production centers across the country. Media Services eForms is a series of fillable, signable forms for employees working on film, TV and commercial productions. Many of the forms are specific to Media Services’ payroll division: now clients and their crew can fill out start paperwork and send it directly from their tablet devices.

All three apps are currently available in Apple’s App Store; the Labor Guide and Directory can also be found in the Google Play store. The Labor Guide was released with the introductory price of $19.99, while the other two apps are free.

In conjunction with the rollout, Media Services and Showbiz Software raffled off three iPads to attendees of last night’s launch party, where several hundred were in attendance. The New York launch party is slated for December 6 at Chelsea Manor. Register for it here.

IATSE Adds Education, Broadcast Divisions

As of June 4, IATSE will make some changes to its divisional structure, adding two new divisions and combining two existing ones to put more of a focus on broadcast and live theater. The newly-created Division of Education and Training will be headed up by former International Representative Patricia White. The union will also add a Broadcast Division, which will be under the direction of International Representative Sara England.

“Representation of broadcast technicians remains an integral part of this Union, and this change will bring added focus and prominence to those crafts,” said IATSE International President Matthew Leob. Of the Education and Training Division, he said: “Pat has taken on the role of developing these programs with great success. Training and Education are a core part of our priorities for success and I have full confidence in Pat’s ability to further that objective.”

In addition, the current Organizing Division will be folded into the Stagecraft Division. While the other major divisions (Motion Picture and Television Production, Tradeshow and Canadian Affairs) have their own internal organizing functions, Stagecraft will now also have its own as well. Loeb said Stagecraft organizing deserves the advantage of integration that the other divisions have enjoyed. The consolidation particularly makes sense because the current Organizing Division is largely devoted to Stagecraft and Broadcast anyway, each of which will now focus on organizing from within.

The move is seen as a signal of the union’s commitment to organizing all types of productions within its jurisdiction.


Times Square Signs Sync Up Tonight

Times SquareThe ambitious video-art sync project “Times Square Moment: A Digital Gallery” will kick off tonight at the crossroads of the world, as sign owners coordinate to simultaneously display video portraits over digital displays encompassing tens of thousands of combined square feet.

Put together by the Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Alliance, the project will feature a different display each month. For the month of May the signs will spotlight the international touring exhibition Robert Wilson Video Portraits, which the artist compiled from footage of various actors, artists, athletes and animals, with limited movement and sound accompaniment.

At 11:57 p.m. tonight and every night for the rest of the month, participating signs will run the display for three minutes. A preview last month displayed an edited version of the film Big Bang 01 by London based artist Ori Gersht.

“The scale is well beyond what I have reached with this work,” said video portrait artist Wilson. “The video portraits will act as a window from Times Square into the personal, poetic statements of the different personalities represented.

“New York City has been home for most of my adult life, although for the past 40 years my work has been seen mostly outside of the U.S.  It is great to have this work shown at home,” he added.

The project will make history with the largest square footage donation of electronic signage ever achieved… and incorporating some of the most valuable advertising spaces in the world. Campaigns on the Nasdaq and Thomson Reuters signs, for example, can run into seven figures.

“This program is a reminder of the uniqueness of Times Square signage as well as our commitment to constantly reinventing the Times Square experience so it is distinctive and memorable,” said Alan High, Chairman of TSAC and President & General Manager of the Clear Channel’s Spectacolor and Malls divisions.

Digital screens expected to participate this month are ABC Super Sign, American Eagle, Bank of America, Disney Store LED Screen, Doubletree Sign, JVC Screen, MTV Video Screen, NASDAQ, NASDAQ Marquee, Spectacolor HD129 Times Square Visitor Center Marque, Spectacolor HD 128, Spectacolor HD 127 CNN Screen, Times Square Visitor Center lobby screens, Viacom Building Northeast and Southeast (SL Green Realty and Orange Barrel Media) and Thomson Reuters.

More information about the program can be found here.

NY Commercial Tax Credit Extended Through 2015

Statue of LibertyThe AICP has announced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approval of a three-year extension to the Empire State Commercial Production Tax Credit. The extended credit, which appears to have been made retroactive to January 1 of this year, will run through 2015. Launched in 2007, the program as led to a net 3% increase in commercial production activity in the state, according to the AICP. The extension was included in Cuomo’s state budget bill, agreement on which was reached Tuesday.

“It’s an honest, straightforward document that exhibits the fiscal discipline and fiscal integrity that we’ve been talking about,” said Cuomo of the agreed-upon budget. “It also evidences the priorities we’ve been talking about. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs; it’s all about economic development.”

The program’s renewal maintains the full $7 million a year funding that producers have come to depend on. The legislature made some minor modifications to this year’s bill, including increasing the amount eligible to companies with productions in upstate New York. Additionally, flexibility has been established between the upstate credit and growth credit in years when the growth pool has a higher demand, and the upstate credit is undersubscribed; providing interchangeability of the pools so unused funds are no longer lost.

According to the AICP, the program is divided into three available pools:

• Downstate jobs credit: Provides $3 million annually to eligible commercial production companies whose principal place of business is within the metropolitan commuter transportation district. The credit is 5% of the total production costs exceeding $500,000 and is distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

Upstate jobs credit: Provides $3 million annually to eligible commercial production companies whose principal place of business is outside the metropolitan commuter transportation district. The credit is 5% of the total production costs that exceed $200,000 and is distributed on a first come, first serve basis. This pool had a previous annual allocation of $1 million.

Growth credit: Provides $1 million annually to all eligible commercial production companies and allows eligible companies to receive a 20% credit on the difference between the total qualified production costs of the current calendar year that are greater than the total amount of production costs of the preceding calendar year. This pool had a previous annual allocation of $3 million.

“I applaud the ongoing support of the commercials business in the State of New York,” said AICP President and CEO Matt Miller. “The unwavering support of the legislature and the Governor for our business – and to the employment of New Yorkers – illustrates their appreciation of the economic impact that our sector has on the state’s economy.”

He went on to acknowledge State Senator Marty Golden of Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Joe Morelle of Rochester, who both introduced legislation in their respective legislative branches, in case the extension was not worked out in the state budget.

The AICP presented 2009 as a sample year, showcasing the dollars and jobs that participating production companies brought to the state via the tax credit:

• 458 projects filmed in New York
• Over $101 million spent in-state by participating companies
• Average total in-state spend per company was $3.4 million
• Over 15,000 jobs generated
• Over 45,000 employment days (1,690 per company) and over 548,000 hours of work

Media Services Presents $5,000 Award To NYU Grad Student In Film Producing

Payroll and production management firm Media Services presented the Media Services Film Production Award at NYU’s First Run Film Festival on Thursday night.  Media Services President and CEO Greg Pickert was on hand to present the $5,000 award to Isabella Wing-Davey, a third-year student in NYU’s graduate film producing program. The award is part of a $100,000 endowment from Media Services to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film & Television.

The endowment and award represent Media Services’ commitment to fostering film education for the filmmakers of tomorrow, particularly those on a producing track.

“We are thrilled to be presenting this award to a deserving third year student in the producing program at NYU,” said Pickert, who presented the award to Wing-Davey during NYU’s First Run Festival at the Cantor Film Center.  “We always welcome the opportunity to interact with up-and-coming filmmakers, whether it is in a student setting such as this or at any of our in-house seminars.”

“We want to thank Media Services for its extraordinarily generous grant, which will help more students pursue careers in producing,” said NYU Graduate Film Program Chair, John Tintori. “I cannot express how much this means to us and our students.

The Media Services Film Production Award is presented annually to a third year student for outstanding producing work during their course of studies. After deliberation and review of students’ work, the graduate program awards committee chose Ms. Wing-Davey from what they noted was a strong pool of producer applicants.

Winner Isabella Wing-Davey
Winner Isabella Wing-Davey

“One of the things I’ve really valued about being in this program has been the opportunity to develop a multitude of skills,” said Wing-Davey, “through development, production, financing, sales/distribution, festival planning and packaging.

Wing-Davey intends to use her award to further the feature film projects she has in the works, including a Chilean/European co-production with a fellow student and Flood, a feature film she is developing with writer/director Katy Scoggin which has already received a Sundance/Sloan Commissioning grant.

“We know that without essential producing and financial services, many of the greatest movies in the world might never have seen the light of a projector,” said Pickert in presenting the award. “Even on student films, crafts services cost money.  But it takes more than money to make a great film.  A producer who has the passion to shepherd a film to its highest expression is like a guardian angel on the set.”

“Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” Ink New WGA Contracts for Writers

Jon StewartStephen ColbertHello Doggie, Inc., the production company behind cable hits “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Stephen Colbert Report,” has agreed to an improved residuals formula for its writers, according to the WGA East. In a press release announcing the renegotiated collective WGA Eastbargaining agreements covering the shows, the WGAE estimated that residuals payments for its members will increase approximately 20% in 2012, despite a reduction in the number of replays which began in September 2011.

“It makes a real difference when Guild members are actively engaged in negotiations – and when the employer recognizes how integral writing is to the shows’ success,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson, chief negotiator for the union.

The new agreements were ratified by the shows’ WGAE member employees over the last two days. Hello Doggie had already implemented improvements that were part of the industry-wide Minimum Basic Agreement negotiated by the WGA East and its WGA West counterpart earlier this year. The 2012-2015 MBA includes increases to minimum compensation and increased contributions to the guild’s pension plan.

NYC Debut of Labor Guide Launch Party

Labor Guide Launch NYC at Taj LoungeMedia Services and Showbiz Software hit the town with hundreds of our closest friends Thursday night, as we hosted the NYC debut of our Labor Guide Launch Party. Already a staple event in Los Angeles each autumn, the party celebrates the annual release of Showbiz Software’s flagship product, the Showbiz Labor Guide. The New York installment was a first, and given the success of the event, it won’t be the last.

More than 300 film, television, and commercial producers, accountants, and other production professionals joined us for the inaugural New York celebration at the Taj Lounge in New York’s Chelsea district, enjoying networking, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and prize drawings.

The Showbiz Labor Guide is an essential budgeting and accounting tool for film, television, commercials, Internet and music video production.  Published annually, the guide lists up-to-date rates and contracts from all major guilds and unions including IATSE, DGA, WGA, SAG as well as working conditions for every major production center in North America including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Canada.

The New York event featured a special presentation of Media Services’ new software endowment, the Showbiz Software Grant Award, to the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The organization, which hosts the local New York Emmy Awards each year, accepted two Producer’s Toolkit packages which will be redistributed to academy members. The packages contain copies of Showbiz Budgeting,

NATAS NY Exec Director Jacqueline Gonzalez accepts grant from Showbiz Software on behalf of the NY Emmys.

Showbiz Scheduling, the Showbiz Labor Guide and Final Draft. NATAS NY executive director Jacqueline Gonzalez was on hand to accept the grant award.

“We are committed to supporting the entertainment industry and are excited this grant will help emerging talent with what we consider the best software tools in the industry,” said Media Services’ VP of Sales and Software Development Steve Bizenov of the award. “New York is home to one of this nation’s top production centers and we are thrilled to be part of the community.”

Looking forward to the L.A. Labor Guide Launch Party next Thursday!

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