“It impacts women’s ability to have equality,” Dimmock, 41, said. After a year on Cobra, she made enough to have the Directors Guild health benefits reinstated last March. (Canepari’s benefits were reinstated earlier.)
The guild’s coverage, called the DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans, is run by a board of trustees, split equally between guild and employer representatives. According to a guild spokeswoman, the minimum earnings required to qualify for health coverage are considerably less than the $47,371 a director makes from directing a single one-hour television episode.
“The matter was recently brought to the DGA, and we have asked the Plans to examine it,” the DGA spokeswoman said.
Other entertainment industry unions have similar health benefit requirements. The earnings threshold for members of the Writers Guild of America is $39,463, which qualifies them for a year of benefits.
“If you are out on maternity or paternity leave and have already earned the threshold, you’re covered,” said Jason Gordon, a spokesman for the Writers Guild.
Eighty-one percent of American workers do not receive maternity or parental leave, according to Katie Bethell, executive director of the advocacy group, Paid Leave for the United States, which is supporting Dimmock’s campaign.
Still, Bethell said, there has been a significant shift toward embracing parental leave in recent years, notably in the finance, tech and legal industries, and especially in workplaces where women held leadership roles. Parental benefits for independent contractors and freelancers, however, remains negligible.