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Is Free Help Really Free? Part 1

By Gwen Helbush, Where To Start, Wedding Management

I’ve noticed an uptick in conversations about employees vs. contractors. In particular as it applies to Wedding Planner’s assistants.  When it comes to assistants I have done it all.  Over the years I have had interns, appetences, volunteers, contractors and employees separately and all at the same time.  And yes I know how crazy that sounds. 

Let us begin with the law, it is without question the most important thing you need to know and understand.  The law as it applies to your business and anyone you have “working” with you.  If you don’t have an attorney, step one get an attorney! I assume you had an attorney write or at least review the contract you use with clients, if you didn’t do it now! 

People in our community tend to use intern, apprentice and volunteer interchangeably.  They are not interchangeable! Each has its own definition and regulations that apply.  I know it’s tempting everyone thinks weddings are fun, they want to “help”.  If you are not very careful their “help” could put you out of business. 

I don’t have the expertise to adequately cover this topic nor would I try.  I will briefly touch on the things I think you should consider. 

Intern: The following is a very small portion of the information you need to know to have interns.  It is in no way all you need to know, I’m including it here as an example.

The Federal Department of Labor has articulated six criteria to determine whether an “intern” or “trainee” is exempt from the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage coverage. In order to qualify as an unpaid internship, ALL six factors must be satisfied under state and federal law. The six criteria are as follows:

Apprentice: Unless you are a plumber, an electrician or some other trade apprenticeship does not apply to you. 

Volunteer: Unless you are a not for profit company and I hope you are not, then this does not apply to you either.

Contractor: With a contractor you need a well written agreement that outlines clearly what you and they should expect and agree to do, the consequences and compensation.  This is where the lawyer comes in, if you think you can’t afford a lawyer to help you with this then you can’t afford the contractor because without a good contract you are risking everything.

Employee: With employees, you need to do even more homework to understand all your responsibilities of an employer.  There are many, you need to fully understand what is expected of you and the consequences of not doing all that is required. I strongly recommend hiring a consultant to help you get everything you need in place before you hire anyone.

Our friends at Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants posted a great article on their Blog Employee vs. Contractor, it is a good overview but again not everything you need to know.

In part 2 we will talk about the cost of help.