Answers - Payroll 101 - What an Entertainment Payroll Company Does

What an Entertainment Payroll Company Does

Perhaps the most basic distinction between an entertainment payroll company and other kinds of third-party payroll services is that an entertainment payroll firm is typically a “full-service” provider. This means that in addition to processing paychecks, the payroll company is responsible for making payments on all payroll taxes, unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance.

In addition to acting as payroll provider, an entertainment payroll company focuses on concerns specific to the film, television and commercial production industries. This includes following all wage and hour laws particular to the entertainment business. The California Wage Order for the Motion Picture Industry differs in significant ways from the state’s wage orders for the transportation and agricultural industries, for example. Overtime rules, meal periods and penalties are defined specifically for entertainment workers. For union productions, it is essential that the payroll company be well versed in the contracts of the many union locals and guilds that serve the entertainment employee community. Collective bargaining agreements lay out minimum wage scales and working conditions for each member of a production’s crew and talent staff. The rules can vary widely from one entertainment local to the next.

Of even greater importance to entertainment workers and their unions is that the payroll company understands the contribution rates for pension, health and welfare funds, and that it has a system in place to make those contributions in a timely and accurate way. Often, independent productions will negotiate “one-off” deals with unions; these individual agreements may allow better terms than the collective studio agreement, but the unions will want to be assured that a capable entity is going to take responsibility for making benefit contributions. In many cases, that means working with a payroll company with a solid history of union contributions reporting.