In a memo to staff on Wednesday, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer delivered both “positive” and “difficult” news, writing that the agency would be reinstating full pay to its employees in the next two weeks, but would also be laying off 50 staffers.
UTA is the first of the major agencies that cut salaries at the beginning of the pandemic to offer to reinstate full pay.
The layoffs will affect both current and some furloughed employees across several divisions, at both the assistant and agent level. (The agency will cover the COBRA health insurance payments of that laid off for an indeterminate period of time.)
In May, UTA, which employs more than 1,100 individuals, furloughed 171 staffers in Beverly Hills, per a disclosure with the California Employment Development Department. In the memo, Zimmer writes, “As for our other furloughed colleagues, we are not able to reinstate them at this time.”
Salary reductions were put in place back in March, as the COVID-19 pandemic upended Hollywood. At the time, Zimmer and co-presidents David Kramer and Jay Sures announced that they would forgo their 2020 salaries and, despite the reinstatement of full pay across the agency, they will continue to do so.
Also in Zimmer’s memo, it was noted that UTA will institute pay increases for hourly employees, with additional steps around that commitment coming in the future.
All of the major talent agencies have been affected by the pandemic, with layoffs and salary reductions happening across the industry. In May, WME said it will lay off or furlough 20 percent of its workforce, while in early March, Endeavor laid off 250 staffers in nonessential areas. In July, CAA announced staff education with a spokesperson saying at the time, “Approximately 90 agents and executives from departments across the agency will be leaving. In addition, we are furloughing approximately 275 assistants and other staff.”
Read Zimmer’s full memo to staff below.
I have some very positive updates to share for most of our colleagues, as well as some additional news unfolding today that is more difficult.
First, the good news. Our industry is showing increasing signs of recovery and stability. Parts of our business have remained steady despite the impact of COVID-19 and, in some areas, we’ve performed stronger than expected. We’ve been able to manage through this period as well as we could have hoped—in great part because of the shared sacrifice you have made these past six months through the pay reductions. We know this has been a difficult time and I’m pleased to share that time is over.
Effective two weeks from now, on September 16, we will fully reinstate salaries for all of our colleagues. In addition, we are continuing to follow through on our commitment of meaningful increases in base pay for our assistants and hourly-compensated colleagues, building further on the increases we instituted several weeks ago. We will be sharing more details on that over the next 24 hours. While our overtime restrictions remain in effect, we will continue to review those policies too. And knowing how hard everyone continues to work under these unusual circumstances, we’ve decided to continue summer half-day Fridays through September 25.
Even with these positive developments, we have some sobering news. Our business is recovering, but the need remains to take a hard and honest look at the size and makeup of UTA—and make decisions that reflect what our business requires not just short term but for the foreseeable future. For that reason, today we are implementing a staff reduction that will affect about 50 of our colleagues. It’s always a difficult decision to make. The reductions will take place in several parts of our business and include both active and some furloughed colleagues. We are committed to doing our best by them with generous severance packages.
As for our other furloughed colleagues, we are not able to reinstate them at this time and, given the continued uncertainty, we can’t yet set any expectations about when that might happen. The most important thing we can do right now is continue to manage UTA carefully, deliberately and day-by-day. Tomorrow we’ll hold an All UTA meeting to discuss all this.
Although there are still uncertain times ahead, I am grateful for all we have accomplished together to bring us to this point. The successes we continue to achieve for clients are truly amazing. We have packaged, innovated, dreamed and sometimes simply willed into existence great and unique opportunities for artists across UTA.
We have shown up for each other, on every Zoom, day and night. The spirit of collaboration and teamwork is everywhere. Thanks for all your efforts, your faith and your commitment.
This story was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.