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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Are contractors more protected than employees, in some ways

squire
Valinor


Oct 29 2010, 10:27pm


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Are contractors more protected than employees, in some ways [In reply to] Can't Post

As has been pointed out several times here, we draw parallels between our own experiences and the situation in NZ at our own risk. But I wonder if you are correct in saying that independent contractors there have the advantage over employees when it comes to job security:
"As a contractor, you sign a contract with a company for a specific amount of time. The company legally has to pay you for that time frame no matter what. As a regular employee a company can terminate the relationship "at will" (as can the employee) for reduction in work force, i.e. layoffs at any time with compensation ending accordingly."
I have been both an independent contractor and an employee in the film business in NYC. My contracts never specified a set time span (days, weeks, etc.) during which the company had to pay me "no matter what". That would have been madness, given the uncertainties of showbiz. What was specified was my rate of pay, to be paid for work completed according to the schedule and scope of work. It was understood that I could be terminated and paid off for work completed at any time, for non-performance or any other reason - like the film/show going on hiatus or being canceled, etc. Likewise, the amount of time I would work was whatever it took to do what I had contracted to do. That meant: as many hours in the day, or days in the week, as needed, for the straight pay that was written in the contract. Obviously any contractor makes the choice to take the job, but as we all know, in most employment markets that's not really a choice unless you are the world's most famous practitioner of your particular craft.

When I worked as an employee I was generally far better protected in this regard, thanks to my union overtime contract - which forced the producers to consider the lives and energy of their employees before doubling the amount of work for all concerned to make up for errors in scheduling or changes in the script. Employees generally got several weeks notice and/or pay if their employment was terminated due to layoffs. The whole point of a contracted work force is that the contract is written to the advantage of the company, and individual contractors who try to bend it their way have to negotiate individually, which is the weakest way to negotiate.

Companies with a reasonably steady flow of income (like effects houses and scene shops) prefer to use employees, for all the higher costs, so that they can build up a flexible, experienced, and productive team that can work on one or many productions at the same time. Companies with a one-time-only job to do, such as film productions, much prefer their people to be contractors, because the costs are much lower and their freedom to hire and fire on a dime is complete.

As you point out, crafts workers (actors and technicians in the arts) may wish to be either contractors or employees, for any number of personal reasons. But a contractor has no job security at all, and he or she must always bet that the working conditions and professional advancement of each new job will justify the risk of accepting straight pay for unlimited hours.

It has been reported - there's no way to say how accurately - that LotR producer Barry Osborne said at the 2001 Fellowship premiere in Wellington that he wished he had been able to treat more of his people on that film as contractors, so that he could fire them more quickly when he felt he had to. If I understand the point of the new NZ legislation, it closes the door that had been cracked open by the courts, whereby a contractor could be judged an employee based on legal equity, i.e. the inherent nature of the actual work and conditions. The result would seem to be that production companies can now hire only contractors, work them just like employees, and never fear any hint of unionization since NZ law forbids collective bargaining by contractors: a complete defeat for NZ's unions.

But is this a bad thing? That depends entirely on the NZ people concerned, of course.



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Subject User Time
Parliament Passes Hobbit Bill Elentari03 Send a private message to Elentari03 Oct 29 2010, 12:43am
    I still don't understand duats Send a private message to duats Oct 29 2010, 12:45am
        I don't either Tim Send a private message to Tim Oct 29 2010, 12:50am
            never ending headache? Melkors_Wrath Send a private message to Melkors_Wrath Oct 29 2010, 12:59am
            So the unions push for changes and end up worse in the sense Eruonen Send a private message to Eruonen Oct 29 2010, 1:43am
                Not sure if this explains it any better, but.... Iolite Send a private message to Iolite Oct 29 2010, 3:26am
        They lose recourse Gildor Send a private message to Gildor Oct 29 2010, 2:03am
            I'm still puzzled Moahunter Send a private message to Moahunter Oct 29 2010, 2:44am
                I don't think this was about industrial action. Silverlode Send a private message to Silverlode Oct 29 2010, 4:38am
                    I love... Gildor Send a private message to Gildor Oct 29 2010, 4:49am
                    Completely agree entmaiden Send a private message to entmaiden Oct 29 2010, 4:50am
                    You do paint a vivid picture... Earl Send a private message to Earl Oct 29 2010, 6:09am
                    Your speculation sounds pretty solid to me Peredhil lover Send a private message to Peredhil lover Oct 29 2010, 7:22am
                    I agree with this point Tim Send a private message to Tim Oct 29 2010, 3:23pm
                In reply to Moahunter SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 29 2010, 7:24am
                    Employee or contractor. Moahunter Send a private message to Moahunter Oct 29 2010, 7:35am
                        Nobody tells me where I can't or can't work. // SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 29 2010, 7:37am
                        Let me clarify my position Tim Send a private message to Tim Oct 29 2010, 4:26pm
                            Well reasoned. // SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 29 2010, 5:04pm
                        other things to consider Jettorex Send a private message to Jettorex Oct 29 2010, 5:33pm
                            Just to get things straight... Huan71 Send a private message to Huan71 Oct 29 2010, 8:44pm
                            Are contractors more protected than employees, in some ways squire Send a private message to squire Oct 29 2010, 10:27pm
                                My thoughts Peredhil lover Send a private message to Peredhil lover Oct 30 2010, 1:39pm
            Thanks, Gildor Altaira Send a private message to Altaira Oct 29 2010, 4:40am
                Right... Gandalf'sMother Oct 29 2010, 5:41am
                    I agree Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Oct 29 2010, 6:40am
        maybe not to the "industry" ... AngryDwarf Send a private message to AngryDwarf Oct 29 2010, 7:45am
            Any faith...? Huan71 Send a private message to Huan71 Oct 29 2010, 10:57am
                Actually Gandalf'sMother Oct 29 2010, 3:56pm
    Huzzaaaaah!// Owain Send a private message to Owain Oct 29 2010, 12:45am
    Thats what I call backfiring .... AngryDwarf Send a private message to AngryDwarf Oct 29 2010, 7:31am
    This bill is about stability sphdle1 Send a private message to sphdle1 Oct 29 2010, 11:55am
    Rather Uncomfortable Lord Maegmoth Send a private message to Lord Maegmoth Oct 29 2010, 3:10pm

 
 
 

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