Ian writes in:
I very recently got my first paid PA gig and the production coordinator sent me the contract and W9 form. She told me to fill out the paperwork and return it to her after the shoot along with an invoice.
Is there a specific format for a PA’s invoice? What information do I include? Should I send it as an attachment or just write it in the email? They gave me my rate for 10 hours, do I charge more if we go over 10?
First of all, you shouldn’t have to create an invoice, because you are an employee, not an independent contractor.
People often conflate “freelance” with “independent contractor,” because as freelancers, we don’t have reliable employment. We work, the show’s cancelled, we go on unemployment, we get our next show, and the cycle continues.
It all feels pretty independent, doesn’t it? But does your boss tell you what time to arrive at work? Does she tell you when to leave? Does she tell you where to work? You’re an employee.
As such, you should be filling out a time card and getting overtime and unemployment benefits, among other things.
But, like interning, it’s an unethical practice that is unlikely to end anytime soon.
There is no formal template for PA invoices (again, because they’re not supposed to exist). So, just google “invoice template,” and pick one you like.
If your day rate was calculated at a 10 hour day, you need to divide that daily by 11. Why? Math!
In California, at least, you get paid overtime for the first 8 hours (on a non-holiday, for the first five days of the work week). After that, you get time-and-a-half, for the next four hours.
If you work a ten hour day, 8 of those hours are straight time, 2 are time-and-half, which adds up to 11.
Let’s say you get $110/day, for easy example. That means your hourly rate is $10. Further suppose that you worked 11 hours on Tuesday. That 11th hour is at time and a half, means $15. Add that to your rate, and you made $125. Before taxes, of course.
When you’ve filled it out, convert it to a PDF, so they can’t change it on their end. Send it as an attachment.