Viacom (VIAB): Cutting Back On Freelance Benefits

Gawker reports that Viacom is making big cuts in the benefits package it offers freelancers, who comprise a big chunk of its workforce:

A 50-hour workweek will now be standard, at least at MTV Digital (which means no overtime until after 50 hours, and no overtime at all for higher-level people, like producers and segment producers), and all will go from a day rate to an hourly rate. Healthcare, which was offered to permalancers after a staggering year of service, will now be offered only to employees who have worked 1,280 hours (25 of those 50-hour workweeks) in any one division. And that’s the catch: Get transfered, as often happens, from VH1 to MTV or the like, and you start over on that clock…Tuition reimbursement is gone. Dental is gone. Commuter pre-tax deductions via WageWorks is gone.

By our count, that seems like freelancers are now getting healthcare earlier than they would have under the old system, but never mind. We chatted with a Viacom official, and assumed we’d be told that irresponsible bloggers were blowing things out of proportion. But we weren’t!

“Much of the Gawker story is correct,” we’re told. The silver lining for Viacom workers who aren’t freelancers: Their benefits package remains untouched. And what may or may not be a  silver lining for Viacom investors — we’re told this is not part of a broader restructuring.

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