View Full Version : volunteer workers and the rules and regulations

BarnofTerror Noblesville
08-22-2013, 06:30 PM
We run a haunted house in Indiana and we are a volunteer crew. THat being said I want to pay my people though for helping but i was told since we are a for profit haunt we are not allowed to have volunteers working for us that they have to be employee's and W2s and workmans comp insurance etc. Cant we just give them a gift for helping out? like maybe a gift card with X amount of dollars on it or is that not allowed. I dont know who to contact about this and thought i might start with this fourm, can anyone help?


08-23-2013, 08:12 AM
Get online and review your state specific labor laws. A case such as yours isn't uncommon and from what I've seen in the last 15 years of haunting, I believe it is something that is widely done and lightly policed (just like file sharing.) But, better safe than sorry. Get a copy of the exact labor laws in your state.

08-23-2013, 01:56 PM
A CPA would be of some help. I would also contact some other haunters in your area to wee what they do.

08-23-2013, 04:09 PM
Well...do they LIKE being volunteers? Or are they HOPING to be paid?

Let's face it, if most haunts had to pay all their actors minimum wage there wouldn't be very many haunts, the man power needed to staff versus the average sales most haunts bring in are pretty neck and neck for a lot of people.

So why don't you find a nice middle ground? See if there's any charitable organizations your actors can connect with, and instead of paying the actors, make a generous (yet reasonable) donation to that charity at the end of your season. This way, you eliminate any awkward conversations with your actors about money, you don't have to have all those tax papers and employee forms and whatnot, you keep all the actors who do it because they enjoy it and you make them feel like their help doesn't help you get a nicer car in November but instead that they got to help out a cause they like doing something they love.

08-23-2013, 04:57 PM
I carry workman's comp even if all volunteers or independent contractors ... In the Hotels or downtown areas we were required to even though the state doesn't demand it. It would be rough on you for someone to get badly hurt and then taking you to court to prove they were an employee, which is a thin line and then you could get stuck paying them for the rest of their lives. I guess the more assets you have the more coverage you want. I also do a blanket.

08-25-2013, 10:50 AM
All good advice.

I'm pretty sure there is nothing to prevent you from having volunteers, however, most states consider ANY compensation to the individual as a form of pay which takes them out of the volunteer category.

You need to speak with your cpa, and insurer. There are coverages available for volunteer work force- you will get what you pay for.

The bottom line is- ALL parties involved will direct you to the employer/employee status- and with good reason- mainly that everyone gets into your wallet and your liability is minimized.

It sucks, but ignore it and see what happens...

good luck