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    Why a Successful Partnership With Your Payroll Provider is Key

    Authored by Sandra Wetmore, SVP of Payroll Operations at GreenSlate

    Collaboration. Partnership. Connection! In my many years in the entertainment payroll industry, the most crucial aspect of my role is connecting with people. Truly hearing them, guiding them, and providing a sounding board for all sorts of situations that may come up. This isn’t just processing payroll, but it’s also helping to ensure productions are minimizing payroll risk.

    Being able to be empathic is not only innate but a learned skill with experience and going through the good and the bad. As humans, the need to be heard and seen is extremely important. 

    It’s so important to be connected while we march through the payroll process because the end result is a beautiful piece of art that gets shared with the world.

    Understanding the role of your payroll partner

    Your payroll partner arms you with easy to use software, tech, and speedy support to get your cast and crew paid in a timely manner. It is important for your payroll partner to handle your productions payroll taxes, worker’s comp, and ensure your payroll is calculated properly according to state, federal, and Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA).  

    Why is this so important?  

    The simple answer is to minimize risk through partnership.  

    Ultimately, most productions are the signatory to the CBAs. However your payroll partner is there to discuss areas of interpretation. At GreenSlate, we are there for our partners.

    It’s not enough to just follow a contract to the letter of the law, but more of the spirit of the law

    For example, what is a meal penalty? It’s a penalty for over-work through lunch or dinner breaks. It’s to ensure you know the cost if you go over time and that your teams are paid accordingly for their time.

    Your payroll partner should be able to talk through potential situations that you must process properly - individuals must be correctly paid. It’s the spirit intended in what you execute with the people working to make that beautiful piece of art. 

    We, the payroll providers, are here to ensure state and federal law are followed and folks are paid at least at minimum wage (depending on locations).  

    We are here to ensure your union folks are paid with proper scale and pension to keep them working with your production. 

    We mitigate risk and help keep your cast and crew happy and productive. 

    There should be absolutely zero worry about if cast and crew are being paid right or if their tax documents will be available on time. More importantly, we’re here to be that someone to go to who can help you, hear you, and guide you to the best of our ability to have options for your questions or problems.  

    My favorite part of the day is receiving an email from a production with a potential “situation,” hopping on the phone, and talking it through. 


    Questions to ask your payroll partner

    As part of the partnership, we as your payroll partner genuinely do like hearing a production’s input, questions, and concerns. 

    If there’s an unorthodox situation or unusual flow of payroll, reach out to us

    Have a special hire or payment schedule? Reach out to us.  

    Even if we might not be able to process through payroll, which happens, we can guide you in the right direction.

    At least with GreenSlate, you’ll always get a call back. 

    There are a few questions that we will ask and want you to know you can ask as well. 

    Ask us about E-Verify, that’s what we’re here for. I can’t vouch for every payroll provider out there, but I know for a fact we’re ready to take any questions you might have.

    Certain states require E-Verify of employees and often production isn’t sure if they must do it or not. Just ask us about it. The E-Verify rules are a bit muddy at times for our industry but we are here to discuss them with you.

    Here’s a couple of fun facts on E-Verify:

    • Did you know if you sign an MOU with E-Verify, you must E-Verify everyone hired under that company no matter the location
    • Did you know you cannot E-Verify anyone prior to the signed MOU date

    Another question that may arise is Loan Outs. Loan Outs are sometimes a point of contention in our industry. But just ask us about them and we can guide you through your particular situation.

    We also sometimes get questions about tax frequency, as it can be confusing for large contractual payments for W2 employees. A payroll provider, like GreenSlate, needs to be there for you to help sort through the confusion. We definitely are. It’s in our DNA and providing the best service is part of our mission. 

    Don’t be shy asking union agreement questions. That’s actually a big one! We have robust Labor Relations and Payroll teams that can work with you to ensure your shoot and employees are paid properly. This can even help plan certain producer’s week ending schedules.  

    When production and payroll communicate well, from prep to shoot to post, even with the bumpiest issues like a global pandemic and through Acts of God, everyone gets paid properly.

    In the event something isn’t paid properly or you don’t have an answer right away – like waiting on a local to advise – your payroll partner should always be there to hop on a call and help you figure things out. 

    It’s all about that partnership and collaboration. 

    Sandra Wetmore

    Sandra is the SVP of Payroll Operations at GreenSlate. She has over 20+ years of experience in Payroll, Human Resources, and Office Administration management.

    March 20, 2024

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