It is not uncommon for animation studios to hire employees under the “On Call” provisions of our agreement. But what exactly is “On Call”?
The Fair Labor Standards Act is the labor law that, among the many things it established, brought wage minimums and overtime into the US workplace. Since its enactment in 1938, amendments to the law have been written identifying certain professions that may be considered exempt from receiving overtime. The “Professional” exemption provided an overtime exemption for artistic positions. As we had written overtime into our agreement, the employers sought the application of the professional exemption and the On -Call language was bargained.
You can review the On Call language in our contract in Article 4, Section B found on page 5 of the booklet, which is page 8 of the PDF.
Essentially, the On Call language provides an overtime waiver for the first five days of the workweek, but does provide overtime for a sixth or seventh day work. As there is no overtime for the first five days, hours worked are not logged and a flat fee is paid for the week. Since the MPI Health and Pension plan contributions are based on hours worked and no hours worked will be recorded, a number of hours had to be bargained into our agreement for people working under the On Call language. Currently, that is 56 hours (and in some cases, such as TSL and WAG, 60 hours). (You can review that language in the Master Agreement in Article 18 found on page 32 of the booklet, which is 38 of the PDF.)
But how do studios decide who gets classified as On Call? There are three conditions for the application of On Call: 1) the position is exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act; 2), the rate of pay is at least 10% above the minimums in our wage scales, and; 3) the employee agrees to work under the On Call language (which often is a condition of taking the job). Often, employees who work as leads or supervisors are hired as On Call.
It is important to point out that the salary you bargain with the studio for your weekly pay is owed to you regardless of the number of hours you work. You are not mandated to work 56 hours in the week to receive that pay. You can work 20 hours, and you will still be owed the amount bargained for the week. Some studios use the 56 hours as a means to get people to perform extra hours of work. This use of the contract language is inappropriate. The 56 hours is simply the number of hours the studio has to contribute on your behalf weekly to MPI for your health and pension plan participation, which are not dependent on the number of hours you actually have worked.
If you have any questions about working under the On Call language, please contact the Guild at firstname.lastname@example.org.