Sunday, October 1, 2023

Wages Verses Free Campsite in Compensation for Workamping

I recently saw a job post in a Workamping Facebook group for a volunteer for Roland State park in Alabama. I went to their web page is it states that monthly rates are $525. This is the rate that the general public pays to rent a site for a month.

The post was announcing that the park was seeking a workamper. They are offering a free "?" FHUsite in exchange for 32 hours of work per week. Here's the math. 32 x $7.25 state minimum wage equals $232 per week. There are 4.3 weeks in a month so that's 4.3 x 232 = $997. You are exchanging $997 in wages for a site they sell for $525. Workampers deserve better.

This is a bargained for exchange. This is not Volunteering.  There is a reason there are minimum wage laws. This employer is disguising work to avoid paying the legal minimum wage. This effects everyone who wants to pursue the workamping lifestyle. It has been said that if you don't like it don't workamp. The price of admission to what I call work wander repeat should not be poverty. Fortunately they can't send workamping jobs to Mexico or China where the prevailing wage is one forth what it is here.

One could argue that the after taxes net is about equal.  In other words, if paid $7.25 per hour, you would not net much more than $525.  

A person who works for $7.25 per hour for 32 hours a week does not pay any federal income tax. Probably no state income tax either. They would pay social security tax. The SS tax is 6.5 percent or about $18 a week.  There are a few other minor taxes.  The net per month is much higher that $525.

You need 30 quarters of work in your lifetime to qualify for social security, The more money you pay in the more you get when you retire. When you "volunteer" you can not collect unemployment insurance if you can't get another job after the season. Who is going to pay if you get injured on the job? Do volunteers get workman comp benefits? What about long term disability benefits. I've workamped for fifteen years and occasionally I drew unemployment. There is no real upside to giving away your time.

The only possible rational for this kind of bargaining is resume building.  If you have never workamped and want to get into the lifestyle, gaining experience by donating your time might be a reasonable thing to do.  

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