FTC Compliance / Employee vs. Independent Contractor

As the result of a Settlement Agreement that the AGO is entering into with the Federal Trade Commission, the AGO is no longer permitted to publish Salary Guidelines, Model Contracts, or Model Contract Provisions. Accordingly, these documents and guidelines have been removed from the AGO’s website.

Independent Contractor or Employee? How to Tell the Difference.

Occasionally churches or synagogues will hire musicians as independent contractors instead of employees. According to the IRS, workers are generally considered employees if they:

  • Must comply with the employer’s instructions about the work.
  • Receive training from or at the direction of the employer.
  • Provide services that are integrated into the business.
  • Provide services that must be rendered personally.
  • Are aided by assistants who are hired, supervised, and paid by the employer.
  • Have a continuing working relationship with the employer.
  • Must follow set hours of work.
  • Work full-time for an employer.
  • Do their work on the employer’s premises.
  • Must do their work in a sequence set by the employer.
  • Must submit regular reports to the employer.
  • Receive payments of regular amounts at set intervals.
  • Receive payments for business travel expenses.
  • Rely on the employer to furnish tools and materials.
  • Lack a major investment in the facilities or equipment used to perform the services.
  • Cannot make a profit or suffer a loss from their services.
  • Work for one employer at a time.
  • Do not offer their services to the general public.
  • Can be fired by the employer.
  • May quit work at any time without incurring liability.

According to these guidelines, the majority of church and synagogue musicians are employees.
Below are links to two articles published in The American Organist Magazine in 2015 which address this topic:

Getting Paid the Right Way by Paul Ciennwa (May, 2015 issue)
Tax Planning for Church Musicians (December, 2015 issue)

To access the AGO “Positions Available” (available only to current members), please click here.