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 General Discussion - The Business of Massage
 employee/independent contractor problems
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Posted - January 25 2007 :  12:32:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am a massage therapist working on the central coast of California for the past 13 years. I have had a private practice and also work for a hotel/spa. In the past my coworkers and I have always been independent contractors. While we continue to be independent contractors, as the industry is growing in our area, the contracts we are required to sign are turning us in to employees without the benefits. We can no longer choose how many hours a day we will work. We are now required to work two weekends a month which means Friday, Saturday and Sunday and seven out of eleven holidays a year including Christmas. The year is broken up in to the first six months and the last six months. As it works out you either have to work thanksgiving day or Christmas day. With our new contract we are going to be required to give one free massage or facial a month to the staff at the facility where we work. Those who have refused to give away their work had their contract terminated. During our busy time of year we do five hours of massage in a six hour shift .We get no breaks or lunch break. During the off season their are many days when we have more therapist on than their are treatments. The bottom line is we cost the establishment nothing we only make them money so the thinking is why not keep the schedule fully staffed incase a large party comes in all wanting treatments at the same time. We make 40% of the cost of the massage the company keeps the rest. They determine whether or not the training hours we have had in a particular modality is enough to use it in our massage. They will not accept correspondence classes as adequate enough to use the techniques in our massage. We are constantly being told this is becoming the industry standard. The company I work for has many facilities in this area all with similar contracts.

I personably want to be a independent contractor with all the rights that go with that classification. I feel my employer gets all the benefits of my being a independent contractor ( no tax responsibility, no insurance, no breaks,no pay for the time during the shift when we have no clients) and all the benefits of my being a employee (how many hours a day I will work, what days a month I am required to work, they set the cost of the treatment) Our contracts do not comply with the EDD or IRS description of a independent contractor. Both of those agencies see us as employees. According to the IRS a company can not contract away their tax obligations. We do not get breaks or lunch. This is against the fair labor laws. We do not get additional benefits (time and a half) for working holidays. We do not get the advantage of having the employers share of our taxes paid as we would if we were employees.

Is this truly the industry standard and if it is what can we as a industry do about it? Any suggestions? Is anyone else having the same problems in their area?
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