WGAE Study Finds Working From Home Costs Newsroom Workers
NEW YORK, NY (March 11, 2021) – We are entering the second year of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The news industry is made up of many essential workers whose job requires them to be in the field, in the studio, or in the office, but a majority of Writers Guild of America, East members that partook in a survey conducted this past month responded that they are currently mandated to work from home.
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) surveyed 234 members working in news about the cost of working from home.
The survey includes at least one representative from Guild represented newsrooms 1010 WINS, ABC News, CBS News, CBSN, Entercom (WCBS-AM, WBBM-AM, KNX-AM), Fast Company, Fox 5 WNYW-TV, Gimlet Media, Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, The Intercept, NowThis, Onion Inc., The Ringer, Salon, Slate, Talking Points Memo, Thirteen Productions (Thirteen/WNET), Thrillist, VICE, Vox Media and WBBM-CBS 2 News.
The Guild additionally represents newsrooms at Bustle Digital Group, Chalkbeat, Committee to Protect Journalists, FT Specialist, Future Plc, Hearst Magazines, Jewish Currents, MTV News, Parcast, and Refinery29.
The survey is evenly split between people working in digital news (websites, podcasts, streaming video) and broadcast (television and radio).
88.1% of people surveyed said they are required by management to work fully remote from home.
The survey revealed that 31% of respondents had additional financial stresses because of working from home. Many respondents who work from home are spending their own money to cover some work-related expenses, especially the increased cost associated with Internet fees and office equipment in order to properly do their work from home.
Only 19% of respondents asked for full reimbursements from their employers for their work from home expenses. Of the people who did ask for reimbursements, a clear majority had their request either fully or partially denied by their employer.
As we approach the second year people will be mandated to work from home, the Guild calls on all companies working under a collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, East to adopt a ‘Bill of Rights’ that clarifies and enforces best practices for Working From Home during Covid-19 that includes:
- Work From Home Expenses: The Guild demands companies provide clear policies and procedures to reimburse employees for expenses incurred by working from home. All Guild-represented employees working from home should submit any and all expenses related to Internet fees, cell phone and all office supplies and equipment.
- Paid Leave: Due to the contagious nature of coronavirus, it is an imperative that companies provide employees Paid Family Leave and Paid Sick Leave in the event they need to care for themselves or a partner or guardian.
- A Union-Sanctioned Return to Work Policies: The WGAE is actively involved in talking with managements about how crucial it is to have a clear ‘Return to Work’ policy that provides an appropriate amount of time for workers to make all necessary preparations before returning to an office part-time or full-time.
- Mental Health Services: An employee shall have the right to refuse to perform work that is unsafe, unhealthy, or which would cause damage to the work environment. The Employer shall make EAP or peer to peer counseling available to employees who through the course of their job duties are required to cover traumatic or otherwise distressing news events. The Employer will provide resources to accommodate work from home needs when/if it is determined that the workplace environment compromises the health and safety of employees.
- Unemployment: The Guild calls for companies to commit to compassionate severance packages that provide additional support to workers who are terminated during the pandemic. These unprecedented times demand companies provide beyond contractual obligations.
The WGAE is committed to advocating for our members on this important issue. If you have any specific problems with reimbursement, please reach out to the Guild immediately.
ABOUT WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, EAST
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labor union representing writers in film, television, news and new media. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government. For more information on the Writers Guild of America, East, visit wgaeast.org.