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Pension Plan

Contributions Glossary

10% Owner - A writer who directly or indirectly owns (or is related to an owner of) 10% or more of the reporting signatory company or is an officer, board member, director (or serves in another similar capacity for a non-profit), who wishes to make contributions on his/her own behalf. If there is unrelated third party financing, certain pieces of documentation must be provided to the Trusts before contributions can be accepted. Please contact the Employer Compliance Department prior to submitting contributions for more information.

10% Fully Self Funded Owner New Media - A writer who owns (or is related to an owner of) 10% or more of the reporting signatory company or is an officer, board member, director (or serves in another similar capacity for a non-profit) who does not receive any outside financing and is fully self-funded. If the owner/writer does not receive any outside financing and is fully self-funded, contributions on the owner/writer's compensation will count towards the owner/writer's eligibility for benefits when there is a legitimate project produced and distributed. Contributions are payable upon first receipt of revenues and are deemed earned and due at that time. All other New Media writers who are not owners are covered under the general 10% owner rules.

10% Owner Rules pdf  – Specific rules that allow 10% Owners to remit contributions to the Trust Funds.

Affiliated Company – Companies that are associated under the definition of Parent/Subsidiary Groups or Brother/Sister relationships. The prevailing tax laws require the Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan Administrator to verify the affiliation, if any, among the companies that contribute to the Plan. This information is required to correctly calculate the pension benefit payable to a retiring participant.

AMPTP – The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The entity that negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the Writers Guild of America.

Applicable Minimum – This earnings amount is used to calculate the ceiling on which covered earnings must be reported to the Trusts. The "Other Than Prime Time" rate for the hired service is the applicable minimum.

Article 14 pdf – The section of the Minimum Basic Agreement covers television writers who are employed in additional capacities. These writers may be executive producers, producers, associate producers, showrunners, story editors, or creative consultants, etc. Special reporting rules apply.

Article 14 E2 pdf  – A section of Article 14 that describes writers working under additional capacity television development deals. (scroll down to Section E2)

Article 17 pdf  – The section of the Minimum Basic Agreement that describes the pension and health contribution reporting requirements, audits, and establishment of the Audit & Delinquency Committee.

Assumption Agreement – An agreement signed by a company in which it assumes the full contractual obligations of a signatory employer. A company that signs an Assumption Agreement agrees to assume the obligation to remit contributions to the Trusts.

Attorney Fees – If a delinquency is referred to the Attorney for the Trusts for audit entry or collection, the employer may be obligated to pay the cost of the action.

Audit – A process undertaken by the Trust Funds to determine if contributions were remitted in the correct amounts and in the appropriate time periods by a signatory company. When an employer signs a collective bargaining agreement with the WGA, they agree to be audited.

Audit Costs – An amount charged to a signatory employer if the ratio of delinquent contributions discovered to total contributions reportable during the audit period, expressed as a percentage, is 10% or more. Audit Costs will also be assessed if an employer knowingly reports on compensation that is not subject to contributions for the purpose of securing Health Fund coverage.

Audit Entry – If an employer fails, upon request, to provide its books and records to the Trusts for an audit, the Trusts may sue the employer for Audit Entry in order to obtain an injunction to permit the audit to take place. The Trusts are entitled to recover all costs incurred in relation to this action, including their attorney fees. Any employer who signs a WGA collective bargaining agreement agrees to be audited.

Basic Cable – Residuals for basic cable use are reportable up to the ceiling per project/episode.

Bonus – An amount paid to a writer when a triggering event occurs (such as receiving financing, commencement or completion of principal photography, reaching a revenue level, etc.) occur. The bonus may be reportable if the ceiling ahs not already been met.

Ceiling – The maximum earnings amount on which contributions are due. Different types of employment have different ceilings. Once the ceiling is reached, no further contributions are due.

Character Payment – Not reportable.

Clip Payment – Not reportable.

Collections Attorney – Outside counsel who is retained to pursue collection of delinquent contributions, interest, continuing interest, liquidated damages, audit costs, attorney fees, and costs.

Collective Bargaining Agreement – An agreement between an employer and the Writers Guild of America. The agreement sets out the wages and working conditions for writers hired by a signatory employer.

Compensation Claim – A claim filed by the WGA when a writer is not paid according to contract. This compensation may be reportable if the ceiling was not previously reached.

Contributions – The calculated amounts remitted by a signatory company to the Pension Plan and Health Fund. The amounts due are calculated by multiplying the covered earnings by the rates specified in Article 17 of the MBA.

Continuing Interest – An additional amount assessed when a billed amount is not remitted within 60 days of the initial audit billing letter.

Covered Earnings – The amount of compensation that is reportable to the Pension Plan and Health Fund for benefit calculation purposes. Also known as covered compensation, reportable earnings, reportable compensation, subject earnings, and subject compensation.

Covered Writing Services – Services that are subject to Pension Plan and Health Fund contributions.

Delinquency – When an employer does not report covered earnings and remit contributions in a timely manner, the Employer Compliance Department will determine the amounts due and bill the employer for contributions and penalty payments (such as interest, continuing interest, liquidated damages, etc). Employers are required to make timely reportings without receiving a bill from the Trusts.

Distribution Agreement – A secondary agreement allowing a company to distribute a product. This company is responsible for making pension and health contributions on the compensation it paid to the writer, up to the ceiling as it occurs.

Dramatic – Flat deal employment. A scripted program that contains plot, characters, story, beginning and ending. "Friends", "ER", "Lord of the Rings", and "The Hangover" are considered dramatic programming.

Dues – A percentage of a writers' compensation that is paid directly to the WGA. Dues do not have any relation to qualifying for benefits under the Pension Plan or Health Fund. The Trusts are a completely separate organization from the WGA.

Electronic Reporting – A means by which an employer may report earnings to the Trust Funds using electronic means. Please contact the Contributions Processing Department for more information.

ERISA – Employee Retirement Income Security Act. - The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for pension plans. The Pension Plan strictly complies with ERISA.

Expenses – Not reportable.

Flat Deal Employment – Employment to write a single script. Flat Deal Employment includes episodic scripts, theatrical, and movies of the week.

Fraudulent Reporting – Earnings reported and contributions remitted to obtain pension or health benefits which the writer has not rightfully earned. The employer/writer will be liable to the Trusts for benefits that were erroneously paid out.

Health Subject Amount - The covered earnings amount on which contributions are due to the Health Fund.

Hitchcock – A method for calculating residuals.

Interest – An amount charged to Employers when contribution payments are not remitted in a timely manner [per ERISA Section 502 (g) (2)]. Employers are required to remit contributions in a timely manner without an invoice from the Trusts.

Kill Fee – An amount payable by a 3rd party to a signatory employer to cover the costs incurred before the project was "killed". This amount is not reportable. Any covered earnings paid by the signatory employer to the writer are reportable by the signatory employer.

Liquidated Damages – An amount assessed when the Trusts must refer an outstanding audit bill to the Collection Attorney.

Late Fees – Compensation paid to a writer when an employer is late making payments. Late fees are not covered earnings and are not reportable.

Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) – The master collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Writers Guild of America and the AMPTP.

Option – An amount paid by a producer/company to a writer to reserve the rights to a project. When a project is under option it may not be shopped around to another company. Options are not subject to contributions.

Optional Services – Services that are mentioned but not guaranteed in the writer's contract. Optional services are reportable at the time and at the rates in effect at the time the option is exercised.

Penalty Payment/Commitment Cancellation Fee – An amount paid to the writer by the signatory employer when a project is cancelled. This compensation is 100% reportable.

Pension Subject Amount – The covered earnings amount on which contributions are due to the Pension Plan.

Professional Writer – A writer who has previous employment or received credit for prior projects in television, radio, or on the legitimate stage prior to selling a script to a signatory employer. A "professional writer" is defined in Article 1 of the Minimum Basic Agreement. A script purchased from a "professional writer" is subject to contributions if the same writer is also hired to perform additional writing services, such as a rewrite or polish. A writer is a "non-professional writer" only once.

Profit Participation – An amount paid to a writer when the project reaches certain contracted revenue levels. Profit Participation is reportable if the writer did not reach the ceiling through initial compensation, residuals, or bonus.

Program Fee – An amount paid to a writer (or writers) who write specific episodes of a television program. The Program Fee is reportable but is not included in the ceiling calculation.

Publication Fee – Not reportable.

Purchase – Purchases are reportable if the same writer is hired to perform additional writing services (such as a rewrite or polish). The purchase may occur before or after the writing services are rendered. A purchase with no hired writing services is not reportable.

Quarter – Three month earning periods on which the Trusts calculate benefits. The Trusts use calendar quarters (Jan-March, April-June, July-Aug, Sept-Dec).

Related Company – A company in which another company makes a long-term investment in order to gain control or influence its decisions.

Report of Contributions (ROC) – The report submitted by a signatory company to the Trust Funds containing the information required to add covered earnings and contributions for the writers working for the company. The ROC has mandatory fields which show signatory employer name, writer specific information, covered earnings, work periods, services rendered and pension and health contribution rates.

Residual – An amount paid to a writer for the reuse of a program.

Residual Audit – An audit that specifically focuses on residuals earned by project. A single project/episode may have payments made by multiple employers.

Royalty – Not reportable.

Salary Advance – An amount paid to a writer prior to the commencement of services. Salary advances are reportable in the time period in which they are paid, not when the writer performs the services.

Sanchez – A method for calculating residuals.

Separated Rights – Not reportable.

Settlement – An agreement reached between a writer and their signatory employer to resolve a dispute. Amounts paid under a settlement agreement are reportable up to the ceiling per Article 17 pdf  of the MBA.

Signatory Employer – An employer who signs a collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America, agreeing to comply with its terms.

Speculative Writing – Services that are not provided under an employer/employee contract and are not guaranteed acceptance or compensation. Speculative writing is not reportable.

Supplemental Market – Pay television, video, DVD, airline usage, etc. Generally not reportable unless the product was originally made for a supplemental market.

Team – Writers who are employed to work together on a specific project. A team is designated with a "&" between the writer's names. Teams do not always split the compensation equally. The percentage of compensation paid to each writer will determine the allocation of the ceiling. A bona fide team of two writers is considered one writer for the ceiling calculation and will divide one ceiling. A bona fide team of three writers will divide 200% of the regular ceiling. For teams of 4 or more, please call the Guild.

Trainee Salary – Not reportable.

Unrelated Third Party Financing – Financing that comes from a party that is not directly or indirectly related to the signatory owner/writer (or is related to an owner of) 10% or more of the reporting signatory entity or is an officer, board member, director (or serves in another similar capacity for a non-profit).

Week-to-Week Employment – Employment of a writer on a week-to-week basis, which can be terminated by the company or writer at any time.

Work Range – The start and end date of the period in which compensation is earned. Each step of a contract may have a separate work range. Covered earnings may not be reported across calendar quarters or misreported in order to qualify for benefits.