EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › For instructors who are contractors, not employees.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

For instructors who are contractors, not employees.

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
In another thread, an instructor mentioned that he was hired by a ski school as a contractor, not an employee. I've never heard of that in the East. If you are a contractor, how do you handle liability issues? Does the ski area cover you under their policy? Can you get your own liability policy? Does your homeowners cover it? If you can't get insurance, do you require students to sign waivers?

BK
post #2 of 27
Nashoba Valley in Westford MA. hires instructors as contractors. The instructor purchases their own uniform from the ski school at cost, which serves as their season ticket. The contractor/ instructor is covered by the ski area's liability insurance and workers comp.

The area does not withhold state or federal taxes for the contractor.
post #3 of 27

Me no covered, me no teach!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer
In another thread, an instructor mentioned that he was hired by a ski school as a contractor, not an employee. I've never heard of that in the East. If you are a contractor, how do you handle liability issues? Does the ski area cover you under their policy? Can you get your own liability policy? Does your homeowners cover it? If you can't get insurance, do you require students to sign waivers?

BK
Bode,
I've heard of instructors working as independent contractors as opposed to employees, although I'm not familiar with the practice personally. The advantages to the SS are obvious, although the advantages to the instructor are a bit less obvious (although the tax benefits are fairly obvious).

Rather than bloviate on and on about something I'm in the dark about, I'll bloviate on something I do know! I would advise going through your homeowners policy with a fine toothed comb, as most policies will deny coverage in a situation similar to what we're talking about here. You certainly could obtain your own liability coverage, although I'd imagine the costs would be significant in relation to the meager income you could expect to pull in. OTOH, if you were running an ESA style camp (I'm assuming ESA events make a comfortable profit), the costs of liability insurance would be less significant, even though the policy itself would be more expensive.

One thing I can say with absolute certainty is if you cannot obtain coverage one way or another, don't even think about teaching! As I'm sure Gonzo and the rest of the resident Epic litigators will agree, there is no waiver in the world that is iron-clad enough to risk teaching without being indemnified.
post #4 of 27
While this is one of those "we've done this before" type thangs, it is important enough (IMO) to go through the excercise again and again every time it comes up.

Some of these issues apply to ski patrollers as well as instructors.

Indemnity for injury to others has been brought up as a concern.

What are some of the other concerns of an either/or classification?

Minimum wage issues?

Workers comp issues?

What else? and why?
post #5 of 27
iskitoofast4you, "bloviate" is such a cool word! I love that.
post #6 of 27
This is slightly off topic, but does the PSIA not provide liability coverage for its members when they are teaching? I'm curious since this is one of the main things that CSIA dues go towards, and the reason that any serious ski school in Canada won't hire you if your dues aren't current (although if you have other certs from elsewhere they may).

That's not to say that ski schools won't have their own insurance that (may or may not, I'm not sure) covers the instructors.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier_j
What else? and why?
Tax issues.

To some extent, the supposed tax "advantages" to the contractor/employee are illusory: they just make it easier for the contractor/employee to evade taxes illegally, which is not a good idea. Most immediately: The ski school doesn't withold FICA and Medicare, which seems like an advantage ... except the contractor is required to pay this (all of it, not just the employee's half that's witheld from paychecks) as self-employment tax.

There are some real tax adantages. The contractor shows the income on Schedule C, rather than the 1040, and can take off related expenses in full on Schedule C, to the extent they're really deductible business expenses.
post #8 of 27
If you check with ski areas that use contract employees rather than direct-hire employees, you will find they have to protect themselves by providing liability coverage for whatever goes on on their property. The contract instructor shouldn't need to provide liability protection. Health insurance for the contract worker would be a different matter and, depending upon state laws, so would workman's compensation.

To our Canadian friend, PSIA provides no insurance for members. It insures its direct employees and activities, but not the 30,000 or so members. The same applies to the divisional organizations that make up the national one.
post #9 of 27
In the last 45 years around here in Ohio and most neighboring states the ski areas employed to kinds of laboreres. The first kind are full time emplyees like the snowmakers, lifties, cafeteria workers, ticket booth workers, etc. Those emplyees show up every working day and are paid for the hours they are scheduled to be there, if there is work for them or not, like no one may buy a ticket for hours during slow time or buy a meal. Nevertheless they are paid for those hours.

The second category is what you call 'independent contractors' and that is the ski school (National Ski Patrol are volunteers) and it's instructors, though the director is an emplyee of the resort. These instructors are called independent contractors because they are only paid when they actually work teaching a lesson. Workmans comp and liability coverage is provided by the resort ONLY while teaching, not while free skiing between lessons.

In the bigger resorts out West there is some compensation for standby time, usually a small amount per hour. In the East there are SOME resorts that pay standby time but would not allow the instructors to free ski while being paid so and the may be pressed into other work duties having nothing to do with ski instructing.

....Ott
post #10 of 27

it's a dodge!

I have been a contract instructor at two eastern areas. My understanding of this status is that it gives them the ability to get around the wage and hour laws.

Since I sign in at 8:00 and they don't release me till the final 4:00 lineup and there is no schedueled lunch, they would have to pay me for an 8 hour day even though I may have only worked "on snow" teaching for three hours.

As a "contract" hire ... they only have to pay me for three. Not so bad if the time between line up's was my own free time .... but .... you are mostly "asked" to stand by "in case" we have another group ..... or ... "just stay on the run in front of the school in case we need you".

I had often wondered about the liability too.

These were reasons #14 and #62 out of the 87 reasons I will not be instructing this year.
post #11 of 27
canuckinstructor,
The PSIA is an educational assocition and not a labor union or insurance provider.

RW
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems
iskitoofast4you, "bloviate" is such a cool word! I love that.
Weems,

Who says the SAT's weren't valuable?! Coming from a pillar of the ski instruction community such as yourself makes that the coolest compliment I've received during my time at epic, even if it had absolutely nothing to do with skiing! I'd suggest you slip it into your upcoming publication, however, having read Ch's 1-5 I can say with utter confidence that you, sir, are NOT bloviating!

Seriously, the style and tone of the chapters I've read so far was great -- concise, to the point, and very relevant. Keep it up!
post #13 of 27
Ott and Yuki and others,
Just because you are only paid for the hours you work does not make you an independant contractor. Some may argue it makes you a sucker, but that is a different thread.
Historically (50-10 years ago) ski instructors were paid a commission split percentage of the face value of the lesson. This allowed for the practice of only paying for the hours worked. The % was enough that even if you only taught two or three hours you would still make more than 8 hours at minimum wage. While the hourly salary has gone down and down much closer to minimum wage, the practice of paying only for the hours worked has remained. There is a FEDERAL wage hour law that "if you are scheduled to work, and you show up, your employer must pay you the equivalent of four hours pay at minimum wage whether they use you or not." When I was Ski School Supervisor at Jiminy Peak, MA (c.1988) Instructors signed a form to release the mtn of this obligation, or else they were handed a shovel and pointed to the p-lot.

Federal Wage/Hour rules dictate that an independant contractor meets three criterion.
1. Sets their own hours (sometimes within guidelines of the contract).
2. Uses their own tools.
3. Carries and pays for their own insurance (workers comp, liability, unemployment, etc.)

Employees get a W-2.
Contractors get a 1099. (W-4 originally typed was a "senior moment")
Employees may deduct the cost of special clothing and tools (skiis, boots, etc.), PSIA dues and clinic fees but NOTcommuting mileage.
Contractors may deduct (with proper documentation ie: receipts) ANY expense they can show went into the preparation and execution of the job INcluding commuting mileage.
** On September 9th the IRS announced that it was increasing the mileage rate for the remainder of the 2005 calendar year, from 40.5 cents per mile, to 48.5 cents per mile. The increase is applicable to all mileage recorded between September 1 and December 31, 2005.
post #14 of 27
I don't mean to be contrary, but people might conceivably rely on stuff posted here.

Don't! For example, commuting expenses are not deductible by independent contractors.

Also (not that relying on this will get you in much trouble), you don't get a W-4 if you're a contractor. A W-4 is the form an employee gives his employer to tell how much to withhold. You usually fill one out the first day on a new job.

Either talk to a tax advisor, or at least read the IRS publications yourself.
post #15 of 27
Thank you sjj,
I made the necessary edit, and you are correct that if someone is going to itemize and file a schedule C (I file seven) they absolutely should have a very expensive tax preparer (attorney) who is on the hook to attend and answer ?? in any audit.
That said however,
If you are an independent contractor (1099) teaching skiing ALL of your mileage driven to and from and for your "business" is deductible even to the rediculous extreme of going to the library and signing out a book on "How to ski". If you use your car for both business and personal then you should keep a log of the business miles driven. the same as if you are an independent carpentry contractor.
post #16 of 27
and Stache;

What you have listed a items 1, 2 and 3, are not stautory language, nor (to my knowledge,) are they part of the wage and hour "rules". They are part of a "common law" test of the distinction between wage earning employee and self employed contractor. There are other "rules of thumb" as well---however these are some of the more prominent ones.

They do, however, present a decent platform for making the distinction.

A big addition in my mental test is "Common practice in the industry"

I'd also remove the insurance requirement.

Not to pick nits, but you an be a completely legitimate self employed person or entity without any insurance at all. There are places where workers comp insurance is not available to a self employed individual---you are not running afoul of any rule, reg or statute

One last thang, don't hire an attorney---hire a well recommended CPA in the state you do business.
post #17 of 27
No Argument J,
My reason for having a tax atty is that he is on the hook to both attend the audit and defend any deductions or other moves "WE" take, but that is part of his service strategery and how he gets away with charging $175/hr for the billable hours he does work.
post #18 of 27
one other reason that some areas will hire instructors as contractors, is that they can then fire at will (this is something that I've seen come up, next thing you know, we're all hired as independant contractors, signing that we can be fired at any time for any reason).
post #19 of 27
Could be in CO.
NY is a "right to work" state. Although some unscrupulous labor unions have closed some work sites to non-union employees, elsewhere everyone is free to work, or quit, or be fired for no stated reason whatever. Of course the usual politically correct reasons are verbotten, but if an employer wants to they can simply say "You're Fired" and you are gone. If you don't like the way you are being treated you are free to say "I'm outta here." and go.
I would not want it any other way. If I think I am worth more money (or better bennies) and I can find an employer who agrees with me, guess who I am working for tomorrow?
post #20 of 27
Colorado is a hire at will state, they can hire, or fire, without cause, unless there is a contract to the contrary.
post #21 of 27
The smart instructor buys additional insurance for a few bucks a year...regardless of part time (contract in our case) or full time. If you have anything worth losing in a lawsuit, you don't leave it 100% to SAM to protect you.

If you live in a van, down by the river, well then don't bother getting additional insurance
post #22 of 27

additional insurance !!

When you are running in the RED how the heck are you going to buy additional insurance?

As I indicated in an earlier post my wife's bidness accountant just laughed my "expenses" off .... he's too honest to get us caught up between the lines with the IRS.

At both PA areas we were told that we were "contract" hires, the devil is in the details and I guess a few calls to the PA Dept. of Labor Wage and Hour folks would clear it up.

At (sounds like) Pshawnsknees, my friends son was hired as an instructor at the age of 15. One of the "perks" was that you get to ski for free in your "off hours" .... BUT in order to do that he was told that he would have to wear a jacket (instructors), BUT ..... if "Wage and Hour" showed up and saw him in a jacket they could bag management for working a minor too many hours, hence he had to buy a ticket.

Funny thing when they "hired" me to teach there I had a season pass (paid for) ... thought they would give me a refund (first week of skiing) ... NOPE! When I went out to do a run on my day off, the SSD bagged me; "cant ski in an instructors jacket during off hours" .... went in and put on my pass .... bagged again .... "can't use a pass while wearing an instructors jacket" ....

If there is a way to screw you .... the SAM boys will find it!

Combed the "rule book" for employees ..... nothing in writing other than innuendo and jibberish.

rant over
post #23 of 27
Hey, I don't wanna lose my van, man.:
post #24 of 27

CSIA Insurance coverage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White
canuckinstructor,
The PSIA is an educational assocition and not a labor union or insurance provider.

RW
Whoa somebody has something against an organization doing something for its members. Can your skis turn left or are they restricted to the right?

CSIA = Canadian Ski Instuctors Alliance. CSIA is also an educational association but its mission in setting industry standards is also to provide benefits to its members.
post #25 of 27
Benefits to members?! We can't have that, you leftist pinko!
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stache
Could be in CO.
NY is a "right to work" state. Although some unscrupulous labor unions have closed some work sites to non-union employees, elsewhere everyone is free to work, or quit, or be fired for no stated reason whatever. Of course the usual politically correct reasons are verbotten, but if an employer wants to they can simply say "You're Fired" and you are gone. If you don't like the way you are being treated you are free to say "I'm outta here." and go.
I would not want it any other way. If I think I am worth more money (or better bennies) and I can find an employer who agrees with me, guess who I am working for tomorrow?
I'm missing something...what is the upside to the employee? Can't you quit any job in any state at any time? It's not like you have to get "jumped out" by your union leadership. : :
post #27 of 27

rears it's ugly little head

Regarding the role of PSIA:

#1 We, the instructors pay the dues.

#2 Management is not, or is only marginally supportive of any participation in PSIA.

#3 The paying guests (part of the PSIA "customer centered approach") and a core part of the curriculum, benefit from our endeavors.

#4 The managenment/corporation benefit$ from our endeavor$.

#5 We, the instructors pay for the clinics and associated costs (hotels etc.)

So ...... we pay the costs to support the industry from which we derive at best a pittance.

Now, what's wrong with this picture?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › For instructors who are contractors, not employees.