SAG-AFTRA & Studios Reach Tentative Settlement Over Unpaid Covid Testing Stipends

Business

SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative settlement with the studios regarding unpaid Covid testing stipends. The stipends in question are for Covid testing payments on days when performers also were paid for fittings.

In the Return to Work Agreement between the companies and Hollywood’s unions, actors and background performers who traveled outside their homes to take a Covid test on a day in which they did not work for the producer are entitled to be paid a testing stipend if they were not otherwise paid for the day.

The Return to Work Agreement provides that “an employee or prospective employee, other than a background actor, who travels outside his/her home to undergo a test on a day in which the individual does not work for Producer shall receive a stipend of $250. A background actor shall receive a stipend of $100, which shall be subject to pension and health contributions only if the background actor is ultimately employed by the Producer following the test…However, no stipend is due if the employee is otherwise paid for the day.”

The dispute arose because “multiple production companies” reportedly had not been paying performers and background actors a Covid testing stipend on testing days on which they are also paid for a wardrobe fitting. SAG-AFTRA subsequently filed claims and demands for arbitration against the companies. Those claims represent SAG-AFTRA’s challenge to the studios’ position that if a performer was paid a fitting fee on a particular day, that the studio does not also have to pay for Covid testing stipends for that same day.

Under the tentative settlement, the studios have now agreed to pay those stipends in full for verified claims, but performers will have to submit claims for instances where they had not been paid their stipends, including performers who previously submitted claims separately to the union. The deadline for those submissions is April 14, and no claims made after that deadline will be paid.

“On Friday, SAG-AFTRA sent to its performers a letter regarding a potential settlement with a number of producers for Covid testing on fitting day claims,” the union said in a statement to Deadline. “The letter indicated eligibility and the action required to receive payment. As outlined in the letter, the deadline for performers to take action is April 14. SAG-AFTRA has no further comment at this time.”

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