About EPEP StoreEP BrandsSupportCommunityNews & Info
Blog Home

New Terms Under Return-To-Work Agreement

RTW extension includes new two-part delineation, and the role of the vaccine
August 30, 2021

Joseph Scudiero

Last year, in September 2020, the AMPTP and the industry’s Unions issued a Return-to-Work (RTW) Agreement setting forth protocols for COVID-19 safety for motion picture production. The parties recently revised the RTW Agreement on July 19, 2021, and includes changes in four major areas.

Escalation (Part I) / De-escalation (Part II)

Working conditions for motion picture workers now fall into two different sets of rules - Part I and Part II - under the newly-negotiated revisions. Part I contains more restrictive rules, while Part II contains more relaxed rules, and their applicability depends on the COVID-19 infection rate in the production’s geographic location.

A production is subject to the terms and conditions of Part I when both of the following escalation triggers have been met in the production’s geographic metropolitan area (or county if there is no metropolitan area) or province where the production is located:

  1. The confirmed transmission rate (Rt), which is the average number of people that one person with COVID-19 is expected to infect, is 1.1 or higher for seven consecutive days.
  2. There are 10 or more new positive cases per 100,000 people based on a seven-day average for seven consecutive days starting from the first day Rt reached 1.1.

Conversely, if the infection rate metrics in a geographic area of the production are lower than the two escalation triggers mentioned above, then the production can utilize the de-escalation rules in Part II.

Productions in the U.S. and Canada that operate under Part I rules in a geographic location that subsequently meets the de-escalating criteria may elect to utilize the Part II rules, or continue using the Part I rules. However, a geographic location that starts under the Part II rules but subsequently meets the escalation criteria must begin following the Part I rules.

Work performed outside of the United States or Canada always fall under Part I rules. As of the date of this publication, Los Angeles County and most other jurisdictions remain under the stricter Part I rules.

Option to Implement Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination for Zone A

Zone A consists of all performers and background actors on set, as well as any other employees present in the same workspace with them while they are not wearing PPE. Subject to a requirement to provide reasonable accommodations for those with a disability or sincerely-held religious belief preventing vaccination, a production under either Part I or Part II rules can implement a mandatory vaccination policy for Zone A employees, as well as for those coming into close contact with minors, such as studio teachers. Notification of election to implement a mandatory vaccination policy must be provided to the applicable union(s) prior to implementation. And individuals have until September 6, 2021 to become fully vaccinated. Only FDA authorized vaccines are acceptable (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson).

Productions electing a mandatory vaccination policy for Zone A may ask prospective employees whether they are fully vaccinated or have a disability or religious exception preventing vaccination. For those that answer in the affirmative, the offer of employment can be conditioned on the prospective employee providing proof to the production. Productions are responsible for collecting and verifying the proof, and for engaging in interactive dialogue with prospective employees seeking such an exception, to determine if reasonable accommodation is possible.

On productions without a mandatory vaccination policy, the employer cannot ask prospective employees about vaccination status up front and can only ask once the job offer has been accepted by the employee (in other words, the offer cannot be contingent on vaccination status). Once hired, employees can be asked to disclose their vaccination status, and those that refuse to disclose are treated as unvaccinated.

Pre-Employment Testing is Still Required

Part I requires pre-employment testing in Zones A through D, regardless of vaccination status or whether production has a mandatory vaccination policy in Zone A. In Part II, pre-employment testing is no longer required in Zone D, only, but it is required in Zones A through C, regardless of vaccination status.

Antigen tests are now allowed under both Parts I and II for pre-employment testing under certain circumstances, which may provide additional monetary savings for Producers.

Testing During Employment

After employment starts, Part I continues the same testing frequency under Zones A through D that were in effect under the prior RTW Agreement, regardless of vaccination status.

Part II relaxes testing frequency for fully-vaccinated individuals: (1) in Zone A from three times per week to only once per week; (2) in Zone B from once per week to once every two weeks; and (3) in Zone C from once every two weeks to none. Zone D does not require periodic testing during employment, in both Parts I and II. For non-fully vaccinated individuals, Part II testing frequency during employment is not reduced and follows the same enhanced frequency set forth in Part I.

Besides reduced testing frequency in Part II, employers may also gain some monetary savings in that antigen tests and expanded pool testing are allowed in some situations under both Parts I and II. Consistent with the original RTW Agreement, testing performed on a day on which the individual is not working is subject to a $250 payment ($100 for background actors), subject to exceptions for certain job classifications. But in the revised RTW Agreement, if the person tests negative and then does not report for their scheduled workday, the Producer is not required to pay that union person for the testing payment.

The revised RTW Agreement includes additional relaxation of COVID-19 safety rules at the workplace, such as less restrictive face mask and physical distancing requirements for fully-vaccinated people in certain situations and allowing buffet-style meals for the fully vaccinated. The Agreement is set to expire on September 30, 2021, at which time the parties are expected to meet again to discuss a further extension and corresponding modifications based on the then-current pandemic climate.

This Alert contains key highlights and general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Employers are advised to consult with their labor relations or counsel as to their particular situation to determine how these changes impact their workforce.

Topic: Legal

Related Content

actors on set

Safety on Set Amid Changing COVID-19 Guidelines

What productions should know as they head back to work
Topic: COVID-19
2022 Budgeting-sq

Budgeting for 2022: A Production Accountant's Guide

EP's Payroll Tax, Production Incentives, and Business Development experts explain how inflation,...
Master Series: Budgeting for 2022-1

Budgeting for 2022: What Productions Need to Know

From unemployment taxes and worker's compensation to the price of labor and materials, production costs...
New Terms Reached Under Return-To-Work Agreement: Delineation into Two Parts, and the Role of the Vaccine

New Terms Reached Under Return-To-Work Agreement: Delineation into Two Parts, and the Role of the Vaccine

In September 2020, the AMPTP and the industry’s Unions issued a Return-to-Work Agreement setting forth...
Producing through COVID women producers panel

Producing Through COVID-19: A Discussion with Six Prominent Women Producers

Stories of navigating the entertainment industry and producing during a pandemic
Pantea Ahmadi and Joe Scudiero

SB 973's Impact on the Entertainment Industry

How California’s new pay data reporting legislation, SB 973, applys to the entertainment industry
Topic: Legal

Returning to Production: Hair and Makeup Teams Apply COVID-19 Protocols to Life on Set

Getting back to work: a look inside set life during COVID-19

The Beginner's Guide to Production Incentives

EP helps filmmakers navigate the complex world of film and television incentives

35 Production Accounting Terms You Should Know

Ready to test your production accounting vocabulary knowledge? See how many of these 35 common terms you...

The Future of Film and Television Production

Virtual stages, remote production offices, and other advances in technology drive the evolution of...
New York City Imposes Mandatory Vaccination Requirement On Private Employers

New York City Imposes Mandatory Vaccination Requirement On Private Employers

Starting December 27, 2021, workers in New York City must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to...

Creating a Winter Wonderland

How ‘Elf’ Production Designer, Rusty Smith, Produces the Perfect Snowy Scenes for Film and Television

Meet the Editor

‘Chucky’ editors Randy Bricker and Shiran Amir on navigating the entertainment industry and how they...

Film Commission Report Highlights Covid Costs as Production Ramps Up

Covid-compliance measures impact production budgets, estimating $90 million or more
EP BLOG_Payroll_Cleanup_Becky_Harshberger_sq

Everything You Need to Know About End-of-Year Production Payroll Cleanup

Reconciling payroll errors and generating accurate W-2s can be a tedious process. These proactive steps...

Kickstart Your Production Career with the EP Academy

From Production Accounting basics to technology certifications, EP’s online courses offer one-of-a-kind...

Why Accurate Payroll Tax Withholding Matters to Film Budgets

Wendy Black, EP’s Vice President of Incentive Operations, shares tips for ensuring your production...
Los Angeles Times logo-sq

California productions to spend at least $90 million on COVID-19 safety measures

A new report has put a price tag COVID-19-related costs, according to data released from the California...
Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup-Panelists-sq

Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup

Payroll tax expert Becky Harshberger shares best practices to help production accounting teams prepare for...

Film Festivals: Online or In-Person?

Producers weigh in on the state of festival season post-pandemic, featuring Divi Crockett and Mike Drake
john hadity-beginners guide to hybrid film financing

The Beginner's Guide to Hybrid Film Financing

How to successfully navigate working with foundations and investors to finance your next social-impact...

The Psychology of Terror

How our deepest personal fears inspire cinematic monster makers Todd Masters and Steve Wang
John Hadity-Sandra Schulberg-Hybrid Financing Master Series

Film Financing Explained: Hybrid Financing

Sandra Schulberg joins John Hadity for a spirited discussion on Hybrid Financing and how filmmakers can...
Master Series Thumbnail-Best practices for accurate payroll tax withholding

Best Practices for Accurate Incentive Payroll Tax Withholding

Learn how payroll tax withholding impacts a production incentive or film tax credit, and how productions...

Mission: NOT Impossible

Production incentives give producers options, increase infrastructure development and jobs promoting...
Identity Security Film Production-sq

Identity Security in Production

5 Strategies to Manage Risk and Resist Cyberattacks in the Entertainment Industry
5 top payroll tax errors-Becky Harshberger

5 Top Payroll Tax Errors and How to Prevent Them

Production payroll can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Payroll Tax expert Becky Harshberger...
Christine Davila, Jairo Alvarado, Sonia Gambaro

Authentic Latinx Storytelling Starts with Inclusion

Christine Dávila, Jairo Alvarado, and Sonia Gambaro work to amplify the talents of underrepresented...

Streamers and the Changing Landscape of Film Distribution

Director/Producer Daniel Farrands on strategies for success in the time of VOD

Meet the Paymasters

The hard-working payroll professionals behind Hollywood's paychecks

How to solve a compounding problem?

The perennial shortage of production accountants has been made worse by the competition for resources, but...

Film Financing Explained: Soft Money Financing

Vivian Hua joins our panel of financing and incentive experts to discuss funding film and television...
Canadian flag

5 Things to Know Before Working in Canada

Prepare for your next job in Canada with this checklist of payroll considerations
Topic: Canada
 John Hadity-Guide to Soft Money Financing-sq

The Beginner’s Guide to Soft Money Financing

How filmmakers can capitalize on incentives, film funds, and more to finance their next project
Los Angeles County Revised Health Order Eases Most COVID-19 Restrictions, Reinstates Masking Requirements

Los Angeles County Revised Health Order Eases Most COVID-19 Restrictions, Reinstates Masking Requirements

Of note, the June 2021 Order (1) required unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals to wear a mask...
Federal OSHA’s New Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

Federal OSHA’s New Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

The guidance contains recommendations for maintaining a safe workplace, with a particular emphasis on...
EEOC Approves Employers Mandating Employee COVID-19 Vaccination, with Exceptions

EEOC Approves Employers Mandating Employee COVID-19 Vaccination, with Exceptions

EEOC declares employers do not violate disability rights or other equal employment opportunity laws by...
Paul Beyers prop master on set

Meet the Prop Master

From script to screen, the creative mind behind the props from film and television; featuring Prop Masters...

5 Things to Know Before Relocating for Your Next Job

What production workers need to consider before moving to a new state
Equity Financing Panel-thumbnail

Film Financing Explained: Equity Financing

James Schamus and Michael Helfant join our panel to share expert advice on funding film and television...
Cal/OSHA Updates Standards to Protect Workers from COVID-19

Cal/OSHA Updates Standards to Protect Workers from COVID-19

Effective June 17, 2021, Cal/OSHA revised its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which now accounts for...

The Beginner’s Guide to Equity Financing

Expert advice to help producers secure funding for their next project
Anthony De La Rosa EP Residuals

The Beginner's Guide to Film and Television Residuals

Important details every producer should know as they budget for their next project
Celebrating Pride Month Panel

Celebrating Pride Month and LGBTQ+ Film and Television

Celebrate Pride month with us as our panel of groundbreaking producers and activists discuss the past,...

Diversifying Hollywood Through Better Hiring and Training

How new legislation and production incentives are promoting diversity and inclusion

Meet the Producer

From concept to the red carpet, the producer is there to keep the production moving forward
Sarah Westman-liu and Jennifer Liscio

Canadian Incentives and Legislation News

The latest updates on incentives, CRA guidance on COVID-19 related costs, and more!

Choosing the Right Production Incentives

5 questions to ask when selecting your next incentive-based filming location

The Path to Better Diversity and Inclusion in Hollywood

How production incentives are helping to promote inclusivity

Meet the Production Accountant

From budgeting, to billing, to payroll, the financial powerhouse behind every production

Meet The Costume Designer

From sketching to fittings to final looks, Shawna Trpcic ('The Mandalorian') and Michael Wilkinson...
Spotlight on Georgia Production Panel

Spotlight on Georgia: The Producers' Perspective

A dynamic group of producers, industry experts, and incentive specialists discuss the state of production...

Innovations in Production Incentives

How emerging local initiatives are driving productions to new jurisdictions

COVID-19 and the Impact on State Unemployment Insurance

How high unemployment claims have led to increased SUI rates across the US

The Beginner's Guide to Production Financing

What to know before starting your next film or television project

Diversity and Pay Reporting in California

Your guide to understanding SB 973 and its application to the entertainment industry

SB 973, California Pay Data Reporting Law FAQs

The new pay data reporting law and its impact on the entertainment industry

Profiles in Leadership: Martin Mazor, SVP and CISO, Entertainment Partners

Why Identity is at the Core of Every New Security and Business Initiative

Digital Production Studio

Production Finance StudioProduction Management StudioEnterprise Management Hub

EP Sites

Central CastingEntertainment PartnersEP StoreSyncOnSetThe Production CommunityWe Got POP
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2022 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.