Officials from Electronic Arts are have internally announced a change in the company’s overtime policy, which will see some workers begin to be paid for work done outside their normally contracted hours.
According to an internal email sent company-wide by Rusty Rueff, EA's director of human resources, and reported by the San Jose Mercury News: "The employment environment at EA was built to allow you flexibility as professionals, with the expectation that time on the job could be managed without watching the clock. Unfortunately, labor laws have not kept pace with this spirit of entrepreneurialism, innovation and creativity."
He continued: "Hourly compensation marks a profound change in the entrepreneurial culture of EA and Silicon Valley. It will come with trade-offs. The newly overtime-eligible employees will have very structured work days and structured work hours."
The price for overtime payments for those specifically targeted EA employees, however, is that those workers will no longer be eligible for options or bonuses.
This change, the extent of which is still somewhat unclear, has been impeled by a recent number of high profile lawsuits and a shift in mood within the industry, as an increasing number of employees rebel against the status quo. Electronic Arts has been at the forefront of such court actions, as well as being the recipient of complaints from so-called 'EA widows' – spouses who fight limited access to their partners due to extreme amounts of schedule-keeping overtime.
However, since Electronic Arts' game coders and artists, a significant percentage of the 5,800 worldwide employees, are still affected by pending lawsuits, their status will not be changed until the legal action is resolved.
Electronic Arts has always maintained that it works well within the accepted norm of the games industry, with a bonus range from 5 to 30 percent of salaries. Responding to the groundswell of popular support to the overtime complaints, though, it appears that the company has been forced to review its compensation structure for some employees, with many larger publishers also now likely to consider changes.