PA 16-98—sHB 5261 (VETOED)

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee


SUMMARY: This act exempts coaches and referees who work for certain private or public athletic programs from employer-employee rules for purposes of unemployment taxes and compensation. The act does not apply to college athletic activity or public school intramural or interscholastic athletics.

Under the act, as of October 1, 2016 no employer-employee relationship is deemed to exist between operators of certain organized athletic activities and individuals who coach or referee those activities, unless the operators and individuals mutually agree, in writing, to enter into an employer-employee relationship. Without such an agreement, the activity operators do not have to pay unemployment taxes on the coaches and referees, and the coaches and referees are not eligible for unemployment compensation based on their work for the operators.

In general, private sector employers pay unemployment taxes on the first $15,000 in annual wages paid to each of their employees. In most situations the employer-employee relationship is determined by a multi-step test that includes such factors as whether the employee is under the direct supervision and control of the employer.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage


The act defines an “operator” as any municipality, business, or nonprofit organization that conducts, coordinates, organizes, or otherwise oversees an organized athletic activity.

An “organized athletic activity” is an activity involving participants who (1) (a) either pay a participation fee or whose cost is sponsored by the operator and (b) engage in an organized athletic game or competition against another team, club, or entity or in a practice for such game or competition or (2) attend an organized athletic camp or clinic to train or prepare for a game or competition. It does not include any (1) college or university athletic activity, (2) public school intramural or interscholastic athletics, or (3) athletic activity incidental to a nonathletic program or an academic lesson.

The definitions for “coach” and “referee” include people who volunteer or are paid. “Coach” also includes a head coach, assistant coach, clinician, manager, instructor, or anyone in a similar supervisory position. “Referee” includes a referee, official, umpire, or judge, or anyone in a similar supervisory position.

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