I think it’s fair to say we all appreciate getting a gig and of course we all do the best we can to keep that gig once we have it. We will work odd and long hours. We take on all the stress that comes with very strict deadlines and intense troubleshooting. We load and unload, unpack and repack. Demand is high. At times, under this workload, it can become hard to maintain a positive attitude and when our “quality of life” starts to suffer, things can become very sour, very quickly. This is why I think that it is smart when negotiating your salary to include a work agreement.
A work agreement is a formal contract that either employee or employer may require to be signed when beginning a new job. the purpose of this is to make sure that both employee and employer are aware of and held to the standards stated in it. This contract should clearly state your requirements pertaining to food, per diem, hotel accommodations and any special needs (food allergies, diabetic etc…) you may have in order to avoid being in a situation where you feel as if you are not being taken care of properly.
While on a tour in Europe recently I ran into an issue. The management of the band I was on tour with decided to start adding in a considerable amount of promo and private events between booked shows AFTER we had already begun the tour. The result? We ended up doing an 18-in-a-row and two 5-in-a-rows during a 32 day run. Aside from how difficult it is to not have a day off for this amount of time, a lot of us got sick enough to have a doctor come out to a gig in Germany to check us out and give us some hefty antibiotics. Since we were already out on tour, which means we had already negotiated our rates when these dates were added, there wasn’t any consideration given to compensate for the extra work that had unwittingly been thrust upon us . If I had known in advance that the tour would have had a schedule like that I would have asked for more than I did. In a work agreement you can stipulate that if there are any schedule changes after the agreement you can request a renegotiation of the terms.
I also find myself more and more often somewhere that my per diem wont cover having three meals and incidental expenses (M&IE). The U.S. government publishes its varying per diem rates for the lower 48 states (see it here) and foreign countries (see it here) every year. The standard rate for domestic travel is $46, there are about 400 Non-Standard Areas that have per diem rates higher than the standard rate. Despite this most of us can average only $35 a day no matter where we are. The last time I was in Australia, I received a per diem of 35 Australian dollars a day. The average cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Australia is $17, but in a large city it goes up to $25. Once again, a work agreement is a place you can set the rate you feel is fair to avoid this being an issue.
Below we have come up with a form that we think is a good place to start and covers the basic things we believe are important to have clearly set out before one starts a new gig. FIRST remember that we are not lawyers and this is just an example to help you get started on your own work agreement. SECOND remember that a work agreement is somewhere for YOU to set your requirements, please read through our form very carefully if you plan to use it as is. THIRD a potential employer may want to adjust some of the terms of the work agreement; this is when you get to decide if this is the right employer for you.
- Employer is under the agreement that the employee has the necessary qualifications, experience and abilities to assist and benefit the employers business.
- The employer desires to employ the employee and the employee has agreed to accept and enter such employment upon the terms and conditions set out in this agreement.
- This agreement is only valid for the agreed upon schedule. Any further employment or changes in schedule must be renegotiated and agreed upon by both the employer and employee.
- In the event that a renegotiation is necessary while still under this agreement and the employer and employee cannot come to a new agreement, all travel expenses and no less than half the remaining agreed upon scheduled salary will be paid for by the employer under this agreement.
Commencement date and agreed upon schedule.
Job title and description
Weekly salary: $
One off rate : $
Per diem : $
Lodging and travel agreement
- All travel expenses will be paid for in advance or reimbursed within two (2) pay periods.
- Employee will be provided with a single room to be used solely by the employee when a hotel room is required.
- On full workdays three (3) meals and after show food is required.
- On days starting after 1pm two (2) meals and after show food is required.
- If catering is not available on a workday the employer will provide a buy-out, per meal, of a minimum $15 or the local average cost of a meal.
- The employer and employee agree upon a reasonable and sufficient notice of termination of employment of one week.
- In the event of termination of the employee while still under this agreement the employer agrees to pay all travel expenses for the employee to return home in an efficient manner.
Employee print name:
Sign & date:
Employer print name:
Sign & date: