Verve to Raise Assistant Wages in Response to #PayUpHollywood

Shane Gritzinger/FilmMagic

The agency said Monday it will be increasing the pay of mailroom employees and assistants by 25 to 40 percent.

Verve has become the first major Hollywood company to announce a business-wide change in response to #PayUpHollywood.

In an email to employees on Monday, partners at the talent and literary agency, which represents #PayUpHollywood founder Liz Alper and organizer John August, announced a number of changes made in response to the hashtag and movement, which advocates for livable wages and improved work conditions for the industry's assistants. Most notably, the agency will be increasing the pay of mailroom employees and assistants by 25 to 40 percent: Mailroom assistants will now make $17.50 an hour, assistants $18.50 an hour and "experienced assistants" $20 an hour. Mailroom assistants, before the change, received $14.25 an hour,and assistants slightly higher. (Minimum wage in California is $12 an hour and will be increasing to $15 an hour by 2023 for all companies.)

The wage increases will be coupled with a shorter workday, another change announced in the company-wide note. Verve's work day will be changing from 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. to 9 a.m.-7 p.m., offering one less hour of regular pay for employees; the agency added that employees will continue to receive overtime pay for any work before or after these office hours. Verve already pays mailroom employees and assistants two hours' worth of pay for scriptreading on the weekends, work that is often expected of agency support staff but not frequently reimbursed.

The agency additionally announced that it will be offering a free "drop off and deliver" drycleaning program for all employees and that it will institute a "business casual" day on Fridays. #PayUpHollywood has highlighted that many Hollywood assistants are expected to dress nicely for work on low salaries. All changes will be instituted Jan. 1.

"Verve’s leadership in providing a fair wage to assistants across their company sets a new precedent in Hollywood for assistants in representation, and one we hope that other agencies and studios will follow," Alper said in a statement when contacted by The Hollywood Reporter. "I am very happy to call myself a client of Verve, and to know I am represented by an agency that shares my belief and passion in changing this industry for the better."

The agency's announcement follows an internal anonymous survey that Verve conducted of support staff and their living conditions, as THR has previously reported. The #PayUpHollywood movement, which conducted its own survey of over 1,500 assistants in the industry and released the results last week, has utilized its data assistants' annual salaries versus the cost of living in Los Angeles to advocate for better work conditions. The #PayUpHollywood survey found that about 64 percent of assistants take home $50,000 a year or less.

"Please continue sharing your voice with us. Our goal is to make a career at Verve an accessible and outstanding experience for each individual that we are so proud to have as a member of our community," the partners concluded in their message to employees.

Read the full company-wide email below.

Valued Teammates,

At Verve, our mission is to listen to our clients and share their voice in the creative community. Today, we are listening to you.

Thank you for sharing your candid thoughts in last month’s internal survey. Based on your input, we are excited to announce a series of changes designed to recognize your valuable work contributions while helping you meet the financial standard necessary to live in today’s Los Angeles.

It starts with a pay increase for all mailroom employees and assistants. Depending on the position, your hourly rate will increase between 25 - 40%.

Second, as a result of the overwhelming response in favor of a shortened day, we are adjusting the working hours at Verve from 8:30am - 7:30pm to 9am - 7pm. Anybody required to work beyond those hours will continue to receive additional overtime pay.

We are keeping our standard two hours of pay you already receive for script reading over the weekend. Our survey showed this to be an extremely popular incentive – an employee perk that is both consistent with the value we as an agency place on the written word, and something that is unique to Verve.

While we will continue to wear business attire from Monday through Thursday, in the new year we will offer a subsidized, in-office “drop off and deliver“ dry cleaning program, and Fridays will become a business casual day.

Beginning January 1st, 2020, the following rates, per hour, will be in effect:

Mailroom                         $17.50

Assistant                          $18.50

Experienced Assistant     $20.00

HR will meet with each of you individually to share your rate and answer any questions you may have.

Please continue sharing your voice with us. Our goal is to make a career at Verve an accessible and outstanding experience for each individual that we are so proud to have as a member of our community!

With gratitude,

The Partners