The Utah Department of Employment Security is trying to determine if the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Department needs to make contributions for unemployment to cover 1,373 referees, umpires, scorekeepers, arbiters and timers who work the county sports programs.
Mike Peterson, associate department director, said the state agency is studying the situation. He said about 30 referees, umpires and scorekeepers received questionnaires about their relationship to the county. Peterson said the study is the result of an umpire applying for unemployment benefits last summer.Every two years, the umpires, referees, scorekeepers, timers and arbiters sign papers indicating they are independent contractors providing services to the county. This practice has been in effect for several years.
Duane Price, director of unemployment insurance for employment security, said the questionnaires sent to the umpires and referees will be compared to questionnaires sent to county officials and a determination made if the county must make unemployment contributions.
He said the study should not cast a negative reflection on the county because the federal government, which supports the Utah Department of Employment Security, requires the state agency to routinely audit 4 percent of Utah employers annually.
Price said the law states that if an employer has control over what work is done and how the work is completed, the employees will be considered company employees. But if the independent contractor has his own business and is free to provide services to anybody, the person is usually not considered an employee of a certain company, Price said.
In the case of umpires and referees, the only thing provided by the county is the games to be officiated. Each referee and umpire is required to provide his own uniforms and equipment and officials' organizations provide the training.
The county doesn't require each referee or umpire to work certain hours and the county doesn't provide any transportation, expense reimbursement, office area, stationery, business cards or insurance.