By Eryn L. Pollard
In an attempt to adapt to the world’s “new normal”, state’s such as California and New York where entertainment is a large of their respective economies, are eager to enter into a phase where film production may resume. As of June 5, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom of the State of California, in conjunction with the California Department of Health (the “CDPH”), has indicated that Music, TV, and film production may resume as of June 12, 2020 subject to approval by “county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations following their review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing.”
In preparation of this long-awaited day, SAG-AFTRA, AMPTP, the Directors Guild, IATSE and the Teamsters, along with others have formed the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force (the “Task Force”) and submitted on June 1, 2020 a 22-paged white paper to Gov. Gavin Newsome and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others, discussing recommended protocols on how to minimize infection rates and the spread of COVID-19 in relation to Music, TV and film production.
As a Producer or Production Company, either contracting for a new project or resuming an old one, it is important that you review the Task Force’s recommendations, as well as ensure that your employees and back office staff adhere to the ‘Office Work’ guidelines set forth by the CDPH.
Additionally, note that as an employer for any current or resuming contract, it is imperative to amend said contract to include provisions directly relating to the control, response and operational protocol for all matters concerning COVID-19 and the risk of infection. Per the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force’s recommendations, all labor employment contracts should include provisions addressing the following, to not only legally protect your company, but also to ensure the health and safety of your employees:
- Periodic and daily testing procedures, stressing that current and continued employment are contingent upon the following of said procedures;
- Include non- tolerance policies for working while sick
- Discuss paid and/or non-paid leave policies while sick
- Proper distribution and disinfection training of PPE equipment;
- Hand-hygiene training following EPA approved and registered methods;
- Providing a current or new designated employee as a COVID-19 Compliance Officer that is up to date with information regarding COVID-19 and its subsequent effects on the Project;
- Provide a “Communication Hotline” to report incidents anonymously (subject to good faith reporting requirements);
- Policies pertaining to Virtual/Digital options;
- Food and Beverage distribution, including staggered mealtimes and individually wrapped and packaged meals;
- Limiting the duration of workdays to reduce risk of infection;
- Address unique production concerns as it relates to cast and crew members;
- Secure a location for Minors off set and;
- Mitigate Travel
Although the Task Force’s recommendations are not comprehensive, the Task Force has provided industry-wide solutions to the evolving COVID-19 virus that multiple entertainment-industry unions and guilds support. For a comprehensive list of the unions and guilds that support this recommendation, as well as a list of medical consultants that provided council to produce said recommendations, please the ‘Appendix’ of the Task Force’s proposal.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that recommendations are evolving, and this is not an exhaustive list. Additionally, per CDPH command, please check local guidelines set forth by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations.
Eryn L. Pollard, is a second-year law student at Notre Dame Law School and is the secretary of the Black Law Students Association.