Jigsaw Freelancers' Letter
Dear Rich and Stacey:
We were happy to hear from you and Alex at the Jigsaw town hall about the changes that are being implemented at Jigsaw Productions, along with the support of Imagine Entertainment. We think that paying our interns, making firm commitments to diversity, and developing a mentorship program are positive steps towards giving more opportunities to underrepresented groups. We also think that these steps reflect the values of the company and the stories we tell.
During the town hall you stated that this was just the beginning, and that there should be an open dialogue moving forward. This letter is an opportunity for us to have a voice in that dialogue. We believe that the suggestions listed below will help create a more transparent and sustainable work environment for both current and future employees. We hope that you understand how much we all value our experience at Jigsaw Productions and hope that we may feel valued in kind.
We find that a weekly-flat rate often means that people are expected to work a sixth and seventh day without additional pay. Especially now that we are working in a remote environment, it feels that employees are always expected to be “on.” Comp days are mentioned in lieu of payment, but with so much work to do it’s rare that an employee can find time to use these days. The informality of the arrangement means that there is no tracking them, and often a project ends with comp days accrued for which the employee is never paid.
We would like to reset expectations to s standard five-day workweek. We feel the best way to do that would be to move from a weekly rate to a daily rate. That way, if there is additional work to be done, employees will be paid to do it. Given the time from our own personal lives that we are sacrificing, we would ask for the 6th day to be paid at 1.5x and the 7th day paid at 2x.
Employees are willing to do the work, but we are asking to be fairly compensated to do it.
We understand that there are a variety of roles on a project, and each has a different expectation of the hours required. However, we would like to move away from the 12-hour day being applied to full-time employees. The idea that an employee could work from 10am to 10pm every day for six months and never earn any additional overtime doesn’t seem fair. That is why we would ask Jigsaw Productions to make the 10-hour day standard for all full-time employees.
Paid Time Off
First, we would like all full-time employees to be paid for national holidays. Many of those holidays (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day) were only achieved through incredible sacrifice, and we think the default should be a paid holiday for all productions.
Paid Sick Leave legislation was a long time coming and we would like to make sure that all
employees are made aware of how this program works when they start. Given the current environment, we would also like Jigsaw Productions to actively encourage people to not just work from home, but take the day off when they are sick.
We understand that as freelance employees, paid vacation is a thorny issue. We would like to strongly urge consideration of Paid Time Off(PTO). Especially with employees expected to take unpaid dark weeks, sometimes on short notice, it would be nice to see employees who have worked with Jigsaw for a long time be rewarded for their commitment. PTO would allow employees to privately take time without explanation for doctor's visits, religious holidays, mental health days, family vacations or for whatever reason the individual may need it.
Entrance & Exit Interviews
We think it is vital that all full-time employees receive an entrance interview with a member of the Jigsaw Productions staff or someone in a management position. This will help everyone understand the expectations for their production, their role on that project, and the relationship of the project with Jigsaw Productions. This interview can also help inform an employee what to do if there is a problem that they do not believe can be solved by their team. Now that we are working remotely we feel that this is more important than ever. It will help employees meet Jigsaw Productions staff, and better understand what is to be expected of them.
We also believe that exit interviews between employees and a member of Jigsaw Productions staff, or management, are a great way for team members to understand how their work was received. A private conversation is also a great opportunity for questions to be asked, and for more honest feedback that could benefit the employee and future projects.
Positions: Pay Scale, Promotions, and Defined Roles
We understand that each project has a different budget and employees come to a project with different skills. We would like to advocate for greater consistency in titles, roles, and pay scale across projects, in line with industry standards. We would also urge greater transparency, so that employees understand why they are being offered a position at a specific rate. When people are hired for the same position at different rates, it can raise questions. Given the history of pay discrimination in this country due to gender and race, we feel that greater transparency and consistency during the hiring process will help give employees answers.
We would also like greater transparency when it comes to defining positions and promotions. We do not pretend to know the best way to do this, but the amount of time people spend at a certain level varies drastically from project to project. We would encourage employees being told more clearly what we need to do and for how long we need to do it in order to be promoted.
Right now, most employees do not understand how Human Resources works, or if they have access to Human Resources. Even those who have been to the HR seminars at Jigsaw are not clear on the access and application of HR. We would like to better understand how HR works for Jigsaw Productions staff, Jigsaw Productions freelancers, and those people who may work on set for just a single day. We would ask that everyone is made aware of the Human Resources available to them before they start working. Given the industry we are in, and the experiences that many of us have had in our careers, it is vital that everyone understands when to reach out to HR, whom to contact, and how the process works.
The availability and cost of health insurance is not just a political issue, but also a moral issue. The price of healthcare plans offered to freelancers goes up each year, while the subsidy only seems to decrease. We are thankful for the subsidy we receive, but we also think that there would be no greater example of Jigsaw Productions living its values than fully subsidizing the monthly insurance premiums for full-time employees.
All of us love working at Jigsaw Productions. Many of us have worked here for years and hope to continue working here for years to come. We hope that you will see these suggestions as a way to support Jigsaw freelancers: Investing in us as we have invested ourselves in Jigsaw, so that we can all move forward positively as a team and continue making incredible content.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and we look forward to keeping the dialogue going.