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Third-Party Payer OK for Game Officials but Not for Game Workers

A full football stadium with an active football game happening.

Many districts are now using private companies to manage payment to game officials, and some of the private companies are seeking to expand their services to payment of other game help, including concession stand workers, ticket takers, and parking lot attendants. These private companies have claimed game officials and game workers are independent contractors, and the companies will issue the workers 1099 forms.

While game officials meet the definition of independent contractors according to the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), game workers do not. Districts do not exert direct control over the selection and assignment of game officials. However, districts do have control over the selection and assignment of game workers. Additionally, districts control the tools and equipment used by game help, such as the concession stand facilities and equipment. These factors would cause the DOL and IRS to conclude that game workers are employees of the district and not independent contractors. Such misclassification could result in the district being liable for unpaid taxes, back pay, and penalties.

The one exception to paying workers as employees applies to off-duty police officers who are employed and commissioned by another entity or municipality. Off-duty officers are typically paid as independent contractors and processed through accounts payable. When an officer is an employee of the district police department, they must be paid as an employee. Game work and hours worked in the regular assignment must be combined, and the employee may be due overtime for hours over 40 in a seven-day workweek or alternative police officer workweek established by the district. Additional information on overtime calculations for police officers is available in The Administrator’s Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

More guidance about independent contractors can be found in the HR Services Resource Library.

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Amy Campbell
Amy Campbell
Director of HR Services

Amy Campbell joined HR Services in 2012. She has more than 20 years of experience in human resources, including 19 years as an HR consultant for school districts and other public sector organizations.

Campbell has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. She is a Society for Human Resource Management certified professional (SHRM-CP) and has received the professional human capital leader in education certification (pHCLE).

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TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.

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