UPDATE: (March 25, 2019) After a complaint was filed against Nitrogen/Cinesite for failure to pay artists for their overtime on Sausage Party, BC Employment Standards Branch has ruled that animators and VFX artists do not qualify for the HTP Exclusion, stating that they are “end users of [commercially available] technological products, materials, devices or processes, and are not involved in creating or developing them. They are creating visual images using technology or processes developed by others. They do not fall within the definition of a ‘high-technology professional’.” Read the full ruling here!
FAQ: HTP Exclusion
At the beginning of the tech boom in BC, an employment exemption called the "High Technology Professional Exclusion" was created. In the burgeoning technology sector, this exemption was designed for high-tech workers who were designing, building and selling brand new technology.
As the tech industry was new, there was no legislation regulating it, and those in the tech sector had the power to charge companies as they saw fit.
Thus, this exemption was introduced to cap unreasonable growth of wages in the tech sector, and help smaller companies to be able to afford the new technologies, and help the overall industry remain competitive.
However, some time later, this exemption was incorrectly applied to the Animation and VFX Industries. For the past two decades, “high-technology professionals” and “high-technology companies” have been excluded from the hours of work, overtime and statutory-holiday provisions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the legislation intended to keep employment fair and balanced for employers and employees alike.
Under employment standards, the maximum daily and weekly hours of work after which overtime rates must be paid are eight hours and 40 hours respectively. The HTP exclusion exempts “high tech workers” from these provisions, and means that they can be required to work longer hours without the benefit of time-and-a-half or double overtime pay; however, in the animation industry, employers often use the HTP exclusion improperly and fail to compensate employees at all for overtime hours worked.
A lack of proper regulation on employers allows them to turn a blind eye to overtime hours worked by employees - these hours are not recorded or accounted for in any official capacity, and therefore are not compensated, not taxed, or otherwise.
It is our position, at ABAS and at IATSE, that this exemption should NOT apply to animation workers, as we are artists and not creators of information/technology systems, and we are working with the government to change this interpretation.
Sign the petition to request a repeal of the HTP Exclusion:
FAQ: Definition of HTP Workers and Companies
HTP Workers and Companies
The definition of "High-Technology Professionals" and "High-Technology Companies" is generally not well known. So who qualifies as a High Tech Professional? From the BC Employment Standards Act, (ESR Section 37.8) this refers to any employee who:
Is primarily engaged in applying his or her specialized knowledge and professional judgment to investigate, analyze, design, develop, or engineer an information system that is based on computer and related technologies, or a prototype of such a system, but does not include a person employed to provide basic operational technical support.
Is primarily engaged in applying his or her specialized knowledge and professional judgment to investigate, analyze, design, develop, engineer, integrate or implement a scientific or technological product, material, device or process or prototype of such a product, material, device or process, but does not include a person employed to provide basic operational technical support.
Is primarily engaged in applying his or her specialized knowledge and professional judgment to carry out scientific research and experimental development as defined in section 248 (1) of the Income Tax Act (Canada).
Is engaged as a sales or marketing professional in relation to
(i) a service or system described in paragraph (1),
(ii) a product, material, device or process described in paragraph (2), or
(iii) scientific research or experimental development described in paragraph (3).
As for a "high technology company", this refers to a company where more than 50 percent of employees meet the definition of a high technology professional, are managers of persons meeting the definition of a high technology professional or are employed in an executive capacity.
FAQ: How do I know if I'm an HTP Worker?
As animation workers, we use technology as a base to create art.
We use computers and tablets as tools with which to animate, to draw, to paint, to model, to texture, etc. We do not design information systems, or implement scientific or technological products, or sell/market these services. Therefore, it is our conclusion that this exemption has been applied to us in ignorance of what we do. That is why it is our position that animation workers should NOT be classified as HTP workers.
It may be written into your contract that you are an HTP. However, a company may be operating on the unchallenged presumption that because we work on computers that we are automatically classified as HTP. This is not the case. In addition, no matter what is on the contract you have signed, you cannot sign away your labour rights.
If it is not written into your contract, or you would like to challenge this, please do not do so alone. Please contact us, and we will help provide legal counsel through IATSE.