Prime Focus Employee Contract Requiring A “Security Deposit”
I received a few emails from VFX workers about a troubling situation at Prime Focus in India. According to them the company requires some employees to pay an expensive “security deposit” to prevent them from leaving the company for 2 years.
I’ve posted a copy of the requirement above which essentially states that a new employee must pay a “security deposit” of 30,0000 rupees ($535 USD ) as a roto artist or 50,000 rupees ($891 USD) as a paint artist. The worker must complete 2 years of labor at a monthly salary of 7,500 rupees ($134 USD) to get the money back.
Prime Focus forces the employee to forfeit the deposit in the event they leave or are terminated from the company during the 2 year period unless it occurs during a 3 month probationary period in which they will receive 20% of the deposit back.
Also according to the workers, Prime Focus would routinely terminate employees shortly after a completed project leading them to not only lose their jobs, but also their deposits.
To put the above situation in perspective, the average per capita income of an Indian worker is about $3,700 a year compared to a US average of $48,000. If we normalized the scheme above to US standards, it would be the equivalent of asking a VFX worker to agree to work for $21,000 a year with the requirement of paying a deposit of $7,000 to $12,000 that you forfeit if you are terminated or quit within the first 2 years. No overtime, no extra pay on weekends.
While on a project, Prime Focus workers were expected to endure extremely long hours with claims of 16-20 hour days and 7-day work weeks with no overtime.
This information comes at a time when Prime Focus has recently been in the news. It came to settle a patent infringement lawsuit by Digital Domain and is looking to raise $150 million dollars with an initial public offering in the US to “use the money to fund expansion of its U.S. operations.”
Some would claim that this kind of exploitation exists in the VFX industry because of low margins however Prime Focus is publicly traded in India and it’s finances are quite sound.