Author Topic: When do you claim overtime?  (Read 6447 times)

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phillydan

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When do you claim overtime?
« on: Sep 16, 2004, 05:54 pm »
I was talking to a friend a while back who was working at a theatre with two SM teams.  She was telling me how they were putting in very long hours during the end of the rehearsal & tech period and felt that they were at a point where claiming overtime would be appropriate.

The problem was that the other team never put in for overtime, although they were working just as many hours.  So they didn't want to put in for the overtime fearing it would reflect badly on them when compared to the other team who did not claim any OT.

So my question is this:  what's your "breaking point" when it comes to deciding when to claim overtime as opposed to just accepting insanely long hours as part of the job (and the reason our pay scale is higher than actors')?  I know I always just expect that the tech & preview period is going to be filled with long nights, where I'm still sitting in the theatre working with designers and production management long after the end of the actors' call.  But when do you say that it's time to be compensated?

juliz1106

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When do you claim overtime?
« Reply #1 on: Sep 17, 2004, 12:41 am »
I say it's time when it is required by the union, and when there is an alternative other than working such long hours.  Here's a "for instance."  

On my last show, the AEA contract called for additional compensation during tech week automatically, so the "maximum hours" for the SM don't exactly exist that particular week.  But when I was asked to come in on my day off, I made it clear that I would charge those hours as overtime, because if the schedule had been arranged differently I would otherwise be getting a day off.  Because the situation could have been avoided (and I was in many other ways being taken advantage of), I felt it necessary to report overtime.

I've also worked in situations where the company really wants to go "by the book," and expects you to report overtime - sometimes they even budget for it.  But on the flip side, smaller companies can continue to take advantage of you if you don't report overtime (which is why the rule is there in the first place).  In one scenario (not me, but a friend), a green AEA SM was hired who didn't know the rules, and when her more experienced ASM reported overtime, the ASM was told not to report for her scheduled call time, and the newer SM had to pick up the slack.  That's a prime example of why overtime is necessary, and a rule.  

If the company is in a financial jam, and no one feels abused, then maybe it's a judgement call.  But it sounds like this particular company, with two separate teams of SM's, is not hurting financially to be able to compensate you for your work.  
Also, I do not believe that our being paid more than the actors has anything to do with overtime - I don't report the extra hours I spend doing paperwork every night into my maximum rehearsal hours - I consider that alone to be enough justification for us being paid more than the actors, and staying longer during tech doesn't even include that same paperwork time, so why shouldn't we be entitled to extra pay?

centaura

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is all the work on one show?
« Reply #2 on: Sep 17, 2004, 01:02 am »
Is all the work on one show?  I ask as I was in a situation once where Equity didn't pay overtime for a SM because she was technically on two different contracts.  We worked 80 hrs a week for two weeks straight when the two shows went into overlap - performances of one, while rehearsing and doing paperwork for the other.  I was a non-eq ASM at the time, and didn't know all the things going on, but her issues with the situation were enough that she quit.  I apologize, my penchant for telling stories has taken hold of me again.  I'm assuming that you're just wondering where others draw that fine line between assumed 'homework' and compensated time?

For me that's a hard one.  Have you asked your ASM or the other team?  Could they be not claiming overtime because your team isn't?

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ChaCha

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Re: When do you claim overtime?
« Reply #3 on: Sep 17, 2004, 03:09 am »
Quote
She was telling me how they were putting in very long hours during the end of the rehearsal & tech period and felt that they were at a point where claiming overtime would be appropriate.


To me, this is the key to your question. When THEY felt it would be appropriate. In my experience if I feel I have finally been pushed past the point of acceptable unpaid overtime, then it is almost certainly now appropriate to start claiming it. It usually means that the production has arrived at the point where better planning, better resourcing, or better staffing would have eliminated the need for the extra overtime. So if I do it for free, then I am  
1. making it harder for those who come after me (or those who work along the hall as in your example) to claim it
2. encouraging/rewarding the employer's poor planning/evil strategy
3. making it harder for myself to stay in the industry without burning out.
4. being an 'invisible' martyr ...and usually turning into one of those grumpy people that are so detrimental to the creative process

I think stage managers are all brainwashed/genetically dispositioned to give that bit more everytime, so if WE feel its time to draw the line, it almost certainly IS time to draw the line.

I once went into a contract with a company reknown for their exploitation of stage managers, with a clear understanding that I did NO overtime that wasn't paid for (I had given blood for this company in the past so I didnt feel at all bad about this...just doubtful whether I could make the agreement work) In the second week of rehearsals it became obvious that I couldnt get through the week without running out of hours, so I agreed with the production manager that I would miss Thursday morning's rehearsal. She and the ASM were to cover for me. Well, Thursday came and I showed up after lunch only to hear that the Director had hit the roof, and that in future I would be paid overtime and be at every rehearsal! I was very happy with outcome, but even happier with myself for standing up for what was, in this instance, right.

Of course there are always times when for many different reasons I just get on with it and do the 90 hours for the price of 40.

ChaCha
ChaCha

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Overtime - Why & When
« Reply #4 on: Sep 18, 2004, 01:33 am »
I agree that paperwork is never accounted for as overtime. Production Meetings also fall into that category before Tech Week and Previews. After first public performance, all Production Meetings over one hour are charged as overtime.

Also during Tech, any hours over and above the contracted additional Tech Week hours are also countable as overtime. I get a little creative sometimes swapping a little time off for a birthday lunch in exchange for an equal amount of additional hours sometime that week.

Mutual satisfaction is the key. If nobody feels put upon or victimized and it is for the good of the show and all parties involved, I sometimes do the time...
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MatthewShiner

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my rules
« Reply #5 on: Sep 18, 2004, 12:09 pm »
I kind of have made my rules as follows:

1)  No billing for paperwork, scheduling, meetings.
2)  No overtime during tech week; unless we add rehearsal hours, dry tech time, anything above the maximum rehearsal/work hours.
3) If an actor is being paid overtime, I bill for overtime.
4) I try to schedule my hours and my asm hours to avoid overtime.  (That is if we have 15 hours of understudy rehearsal, I will take five hours off, try to give her five hours off.)
5) Never bill unless approved first.  (But, I usually negotiate five hours of over time per week pre-approved on big shows.)
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

SM_Art

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When do you claim overtime?
« Reply #6 on: Sep 18, 2004, 12:16 pm »
Obviously, most SMs will put in for overtime whenever a situation leads to OT for the actors, as that's clearly stated in the contracts, but it's the other situations that get less certain.
It's important to discuss this AHEAD of time with the producers, so you'll know what to expect.  Some expect you to notify them if a rehearsal or meeting will lead to overtime before it happens, so they can say 'go ahead' or 'let's reschedule'... and if you've talked it through first, you'll know where you stand.
I hate the producers who say 'this meeting isn't required for you, and we won't pay OT for it' thus putting you in the situation of deciding whether or not it's omportant for you to be there on your own time.  For the show, it's important, but to be, in essence, "indirectly asked" to not show up for a meeting for which you'd have to be paid extra is really tacky, in my view, and is almost a brach of the contract.  However... most of us DO feel it's important to be at those meetings.  This is why it's so important to keep the scheduling organized, and the communication flowing.
Interesting enough, with the electronic age exploding, we spend a lot more time communicating via email instead of in person, and it might actually reduce the number of cases where we have to put in for ot....

hbelden

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Re: Overtime - Why & When
« Reply #7 on: Sep 18, 2004, 03:02 pm »
Quote from: "VSM"
I agree that paperwork is never accounted for as overtime. Production Meetings also fall into that category before Tech Week and Previews. After first public performance, all Production Meetings over one hour are charged as overtime.



Does "Production Meetings count as workweek hours" vary with the contract?  It seems pretty clear on the LORT contract that production meetings, that the producer expects SMs to be at, fall into our workweek hours, even before tech week.  Did I miss something?
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VSM

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When do you claim overtime?
« Reply #8 on: Sep 18, 2004, 11:19 pm »
I think the basic feelings remain the same but certain contracts spell out certain things much more specifically than others. I take each situation as a separate and unique challenge and go from there.

I do agree that any overtime possibility should be discussed with the Producer before it occurs.
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akearson

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When do you claim overtime?
« Reply #9 on: Sep 19, 2004, 06:05 pm »
Under the LORT contract, production meetings do count towards your total workweek hours. The contract is also pretty clear about what can and cannot be used to calculate workweek hours. To me the bigger question is what work is being required to cause the sm staff to work such long hours? Is it the producer that is requiring the work or is it work that the sm staff is requiring of themselves? I think that as young stage managers we are taught to put in as many hours as required to do the job right -have the clearest, cleanest paperwork, new script pages, run lines with actors, move rehearsal from room to room, so on and so forth. We do this at the sacrifice of our own personal wellbeing. I have to say that I no longer agree with that way of thinking, and that has forced me to look at how I manage my time and my staffs time during the rehearsal day. I guess that for me, I draw the line before it ever gets to the question of overtime.

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