Gez Hixson, COO, says: “We know we cannot always control or change the demands of project-based work in film and episodic, nor client requests. However, everyone involved in delivering this work needs to be properly remunerated for any extra hours they put in.
“It’s abundantly clear that overtime laws in the UK do not protect visual effects workers or anyone in the creative sector, whereas in other regions there are clear regulations in place. In addition, the VFX sector has, in our view, purveyed a culture built on extra hours for no extra pay.”
The new overtime policy covers all artists from Junior to Lead level, and all production staff from Production Assistant to Production Manager. In addition to the proposed changes to overtime for these team members, we will introduce an additional policy for Producers and Supervisors to prevent them from working overtime hours without being paid for them and will formalise our Indian overtime commitments ahead of the opening of our Mumbai facility.
“We have always paid for overtime in the UK, but we felt that our policy didn’t align with our studios in Montreal and Los Angeles," continues Hixson. "In those regions employees are legally entitled to overtime pay systems that we felt were superior to what we were offering voluntarily.”
According to GOV.UK, in the United Kingdom there is no legal requirement for employers to pay for overtime as long as an employee’s average hourly earnings aren’t lower than the National Minimum Wage. “We believe that our new approach is progressive and will be welcomed by the UK VFX community as a first step towards acknowledging and rewarding the sacrifices that often come hand in hand with the world we operate in.
“Our long-term ambition is to be at the forefront of positive industry changes. In combination with Life Time – our uncapped leave policy – I'm excited about this latest change to the way we work and sincerely hope that other companies join us in introducing similar changes to support their workforce.”
Ian Fellows, who works with artists at all levels in his role as Learning and Development Manager and recently as VFX Supervisor on News of the World, says: “In over two decades working in this industry I’ve never received overtime pay for weekend work or after the regular working day – it’s always been accepted as something we are required to do for the job.
“Time off in lieu on company terms has always seemed a poor substitute for a proper overtime pay structure. There’s always been a sense of unfairness that in other countries such as Canada the VFX community is compensated fairly for additional hours worked, by law. This new policy will help to achieve a better balance here in the UK.”
All of our team members in the UK are currently being consulted on these changes. The new overtime policy will come into effect as of 1 September 2021.