In Major Reversal, Viacom Returns Healthcare To Freelancers

In a memo issued this afternoon, MTV Networks performed a near-180, relenting to complaints from freelancers who were told last week their benefits would be cut. "We've implemented a process for evaluating freelance and temporary employee positions for possible conversion to staff positions," reads the announcement from JoAnne Griffith, MTVN's executive vice president for HR. "This process is currently underway." Freelancers will now have the choice to continue with their current health plan—including dental!—or sign on to MTV's Aetna plan. Either way, they won't have to make the decision until February of next year, nearly three months after the original deadline set by the company last week. Full memo after the jump.

From: Office Of JoAnne Griffith
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2007 2:53 PM
To: M_MTVN__ALL
Subject: More Important News for Freelance and Temporary Employees

As you know, we've been holding information sessions over the past several days to discuss our freelance and temporary employee benefits. We've had many insightful conversations and heard a number of your specific concerns.

As a result of the input you've given to us directly through the sessions and your managers, we want to announce the following changes:

· We are expanding our freelance and temporary medical and dental benefits options to include the United Healthcare plan under which many of you are currently covered. This means anyone who is eligible for benefits in 2008 can opt for medical and dental coverage with United Healthcare at the current rate of contribution, or you can elect instead to enroll in the newly offered Aetna plan.

· The Aetna plan has certain advantages that may make it the preferred option for many of our freelance and temporary employees. Based on your input, however, we want to make sure that those of you who prefer the United Healthcare plan have that option.

· As a result of this change, the freelance and temporary employee payroll conversion to Cast and Crew has been delayed until February 1, 2008. Therefore, the December 14th deadline to submit your Cast and Crew paperwork has been postponed. We will inform you of the new deadline early in the New Year.

· We've implemented a process for evaluating freelance and temporary employee positions for possible conversion to staff positions. This process is currently underway and decisions will be communicated by January 31st, 2008.

In order to address additional questions, HR representatives will be available to discuss individual circumstances and concerns at the following times and locations:

· New York: Thursday, December 13th
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
1515 Broadway, Conference Room 44-02

· Los Angeles: Thursday, December 13th
11:00 a.m.
2600 Colorado Ave., 5th Floor LEG Room

Employees in other regions should contact their HR representative directly with any questions or concerns.