In the wake of an email sent to CBS Studios term-deal assistants informing them that their wages for the week ending March 28 would be capped at 52 hours, CBS tells Variety that the memo was sent out in error, and that there is no plan to retroactively reduce pay for those support staffers.
“It was a mistake and it has been corrected,” according to a CBS Studios spokesperson.
The original email had informed term-deal assistants that starting the week ending April 4, they would only receive 40 hours’ worth of salary even if they had an overtime approval letter, and that all overtime hours worked the week ending March 28 would be reduced to 52. The email was first surfaced Tuesday on Twitter.
One support staffer who spoke to Variety ahead of the correction had been concerned about the ramifications of the apparent change, and being put in the “uncomfortable position of knowing that I’d make more money on unemployment than I would continuing to work for my boss.”
CBS Studios’ head of human resources sent the following correction email Tuesday afternoon:
I hope this email finds you safe and well. I am writing to you to clarify and correct the email sent to you this morning regarding your compensation.
- Currently, there are no plans to limit or cap your working hours to 40 hours per week. We are continuing to require written pre-approval for any hours worked in excess of 52 hours per week.
- You will always be paid in accordance with applicable law, including overtime for hours worked (in California, after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week).
- To be clear, there has been no instruction or intention to reduce your pay for hours worked retroactively.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly. We apologize for any confusion caused by the earlier email.
We look forward to getting back to regular production as soon as possible.”
The assistant who spoke with Variety is skeptical, however, that the original two emails sent by CBS Studios were a mistake.
“I’ve known Mo and Suki to be very thorough and careful with what they send, they wouldn’t have blasted this out to assistants without careful vetting with people above them,” this person said, referring to the senders of the pay-cut emails. “It also seems weird that it could be chalked up to a mistake since it was two separate emails, sent almost half an hour apart. So, I don’t know that I believe that it was a mistake, no.”
CBS is retroactively cutting ALL assistants' hours across the board due to COVID-19. to clarify, this is a 30%+ pay cut that would result in weekly pay lower than unemployment. i wonder if the execs and showrunners at CBS are taking a 30%+ pay cut as well? #payuphollywood pic.twitter.com/CA8AOZ6oZP
— beguiling bug (@runolgarun) March 31, 2020