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As Hollywood reopens, COVID-19 liability waivers abound. What are they and should workers sign?

By Anousha Sakoui, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

LOS ANGELES - As many production companies attempt to resume filming, many are asking crews to give up the right to make any claims against them if they get sick with COVID-19.

Such liability waivers are being widely used despite many of Hollywood's entertainment unions cautioning members not to sign them before first getting advice.

To sign or not to sign is a quandary facing thousands of entertainment industry workers who are eager to go back to work after a months-long shutdown.

Some crews have been spooked by the use of such waivers, a reminder of the risks that they are taking going back to work on crowded, busy sets.

"We don't want any of our members waiving any of their rights, period," said Steve Dayan, secretary-treasurer of prominent Teamsters Local 399, which represents casting directors, location managers and drivers. "The onus remains on the employer. It's the employer's responsibility to make sure they maintain a safe set."

_So what are these waivers and how did they emerge?

 

The pandemic forced productions nationwide and internationally to shut down as governments imposed stay-at-home orders. Since June, California has allowed filming to restart as long as sets follow stringent guidelines around sanitation and testing. Many productions may be having to make do without insurance for losses linked to the coronavirus.

So like many other businesses and hospitals, productions increasingly require their crew to fill out healthcare questionnaires, sometimes on a daily basis.

While union officials want to ensure these don't lead to any breaches of privacy of crews' medical conditions, generally they want their members to comply with these surveys to keep sets safe.

However, from these initial quizzes, producers started to make a broader push for actors and technicians to waive their rights should they get sick.

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