Paying Sports Officials

Posted by on Nov 18, 2007 in Information | 0 comments

Recently, concern over the proper manner in which to pay sports officials for school events has caused much confusion throughout the state. It is important to know the definition of each individual being paid prior to a check being issued, as their standing within the school district as a vendor or an employee will determine how these persons will receive their pay.

An employee that works at a sporting event should be paid through the payroll process, with the proper taxes and withholdings being considered. An employee is a person that the district would have behavioral and financial control over, as well as a continuing relationship, such as set hours and prohibition of doing work for others.

A person who works at a sporting event as an official and is not currently employed as a certified or support employee for the school district is an independent contractor (vendor), and should be paid accordingly. We do not feel this person meets the definition of an “employee” of the district.

In order for an official to be considered an independent contractor, the following conditions should be met:

  • They should be paid a fixed fee per game.
    » This condition is met in public school districts.
  • They should be allowed to select which game they will referee.
    » Officials can decide whether or not they want to work any particular game(s).
  • The referees and umpires should be hired from an agency, with all those in agency with credentials and references. The employer would not provide training, but the agency would certify that the umpires and referees know all new rules each year.
    » Schools do not provide training for officials. The OSSAA normally handles all credentials and training of officials.
  • Umpires and referees should furnish their own rulebooks, uniforms and necessary equipment.
    » Officials furnish these items on their own.

To consider every official an employee would be a recordkeeping nightmare, and seems to defeat the purpose of student activity funds. It would also be near impossible to have these “paychecks” prepared and printed in time for these visitors to receive payment at the event, since appropriated funds must be obligated and encumbered prior to services being rendered, and cannot be paid until such services are completed. Once these individuals are told they will not be paid until the next employee payday, we doubt seriously that they will ever agree to be an official for that district in the future. These individuals normally make around $50 per event. This amount of pay is simply not material enough to run through the payroll process.

It is our opinion that these individuals can be paid directly from the activity fund. We recommend that the officials sign the supporting documentation (non-commercial vendors claim, check stub, internal “sports official” invoice, etc.) to indicate that they did receive the check and the amount was correct.

Of course, this is just our opinion.

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