Since we make no secret about the rates we charge our clients and the rates we pay our team members, many times we are asked to explain the delta between the two. Now, for those unfamiliar with those rates (which you can find here), I don’t think those asking thing the difference is unreasonable. The conversation is more about justifying what is often mistaken as profit. In fact, the cost of labor, especially in states with strict definitions regarding contractors, can be stifling. And the indirect costs of labor can get so out of control, that many clients and contractors are overwhelmed by the challenges the average crewing company must face.
So we decided to publish an article the fully describes the cost of labor, from the direct costs such as payroll, payroll tax, benefits and insurance to indirect costs such as payroll processing, operating costs, invoice exceptions and time theft. The sections to follow will not only explain the rationale behind our rate system, but can be useful for companies requiring a contingent workforce to analyze their own investment into their workforce and determine if a staffing or crewing company is a better model for them to pursue.
Keep in mind, companies can have subtle differences in business model, have a higher tolerance for risk or work in states with less impactful regulations - but for the most part, this article is applicable to a broad range of employers in countless industries. This does not pertain strictly to the live event industry, but frankly, it applies to just about any industry and company requiring an employee - and in many cases applies to freelancers also.
Bring On The Specialty Shapes
This is a pretty slick display panel. The DESAY Series E display was designed and developed around the needs of indoor touring applications.
The series E may not be a game changer, but it's already available as a 1.5mm, 1.875mm, 2.5mm to 3.75mm. It boasts a precise, quick connector system safe for even displays super fine pixel pitches.
Like most popular touring display tiles, the series E is 100% front serviceable. It offers a wide viewing angle, high contrast ratio and high refresh rate, making this suitable as an indoor touring module - and I suspect we'll see more of these specialty shapes and sizes
The LED world is really starting to pick up speed.
What to do, not do, pretend to do, expect doing again, and who to blame for doing it.
It's true, like most specialized trades, stagehands and stagecraft professionals have their own unique culture and etiquette associated. We've covered topics about vocabulary, style and even the perspective on the length of a work day. However, when we collect and present all the unique aspects of stagehand life, there is undeniably a code of ethics or general etiquette that we all kind of naturally follow. Those that resist don't seem to last long.
Some of the rules are unspoken and some are clear communicated. But in total, there exists a set of guidelines and principles that stagehands seem hold to. It's worth mentioning that stagehand norms and mores do differ according to geographic location and even age group. But we wanted to pull together a general list of expectations and etiquette for new recruits and even veteran review. Not all these instructions may apply to crews everywhere, but they are group of standards that will set most up for success if understood and practiced. We encourage our readers to comment and add perspective.
IRS Rule on "Expensing Your Image"
Taxpayers in the entertainment industry sometimes may incur expenses to maintain an image. These expenses are frequently related to the individual's appearance in the form of clothing, make-up, and physical fitness. Other expenses in this area include bodyguards and limousines. These are generally found to be personal expenses as the inherently personal nature of the expense and the personal benefit far outweigh any potential business benefit.
No deduction is allowed for wardrobe, general make-up, or hair styles for auditions, job interviews, or "to maintain an image".
Excerpt from IRS Website on Business Expenses in the Entertainment Industry
(Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 02-Aug-2018)
Guidelines for Determining Internship Program Compliance with the FLSA.
Before I dig into this topic, just want to clarify The Stagecraft Agency does not have unpaid internship programs. Even among our youngest, most ambitious recruits, we value their contribution and return their investment into learning the craft specific skills and talents involved in event production.
The fact sheet below was provided by the US Dept of Labor to help companies determine whether their programs and compliant with The Fair Labor Standards Act. For more information, we urge you to visit the US Dept of Labor at https://www.dol.gov
The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. Interns and students, however, may not be “employees” under the FLSA—in which case the FLSA does not require compensation for their work.
The Test for Unpaid Interns and Students
Courts have used the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA.2 In short, this test allows courts to examine the “economic reality” of the intern-employer relationship to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. Courts have identified the following seven factors as part of the test:
We're often asked the difference between employee and freelance stagehands. It's curious how many stagehand's don't understand the basic pros and cons of taking on a job(s) that impact how they may be classified. Frankly, there can be a number of subtle or intrinsic benefits (or challenges) associated with every classification. We've listed and detailed some of the basics below, and we welcome your thoughts and opinions.
We've narrowed down the broad range of classification to 4 basic categories:
1. Union Member, Temporary Employees
2. Non-Union, Regular Employees
3. Freelance Independent Contractors
There are a number of subgroups under these three categories, such as Permalancers, Contract Employees, Seasonal Employees, Part-Time, Full-Time, etc. Of course there are variations and exceptions to many situations, but for the most part, they all fall into these three basic categories and the pros & cons are the most common for that group.
Determining Independent Contractor Compliance
It's alarming how few freelancers are aware that there is a mandate for employers to comply with strict, but loosely defined, rules when hiring freelance stagehands - identified as independent contractors. It's not surprising however, since even those employers, HR specialists, labor specialists and even the independent contractors themselves argue over their interpretation of the rules. The guidelines, applicable state and federal laws and regulatory and legal requirements are a constant topic among our team, and we want to open the conversation up to our entire community and ensure all our colleagues and clients are aware of the current guidelines.
There 20 factors used by the IRS to determine whether an employer has enough control over a worker for that worker to be classified as an employee, rather than a contractor. Though these rules are intended only as a guide - the IRS says the importance of each factor depends on the individual circumstances - they are helpful in determining whether our relationships demonstrates an employer-employee relationship. When the answer is “Yes” to the first four questions, you can typically satisfy compliance as an independent contractor; “Yes” to any of questions 5 through 20 means we will need to classify you as an employee, subject to backup withholding, among other requirements.
1. Profit or loss. Can the worker make a profit or suffer a loss as a result of the work, aside from the money earned from the project? (This should involve real economic risk-not just the risk of not getting paid.)
2. Investment. Does the worker have an investment in the equipment and facilities used to do the work? (The greater the investment, the more likely independent contractor status.)
3. Works for more than one firm. Does the person work for more than one company at a time? (This tends to indicate independent contractor status, but isn’t conclusive since employees can also work for more than one employer.)
4. Services offered to the general public. Does the worker offer services to the general public.
5. Instructions. Do you have the right to give the worker instructions about when, where, and how to work? (This shows control over the worker.)
6. Training. Do you train the worker to do the job in a particular way? (Independent contractors are already trained.)