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To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors

Author Topic: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors  (Read 13696 times)

Offline Ron Baker

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2014, 09:54:03 PM »
Some very interesting and very thoughtful points made in this discussion. 

One thing's for certain: going into the martial arts business--if you want to do it well--requires preparation, a fundamental knowledge of business operations, a little business law, a willingness to sacrifice, and a thick skin among other things.  Some of these things just don't come with the black belt.  I happen to have been blessed with a legal background before starting a martial arts business, so some things weren't completely foreign.  Today, it's not enough to simply get the blessing of one's teacher to open a school.  You almost need to take a class on small business.  Matter of fact, I would suggest it in some cases.  It couldn't hurt.

As to paid instructors, I understand the opinions.  But is there any harm to Kajukenbo if those who run a business also happen to pay one or more of their instructors? 
 

 
Sigung (Shihan) Ron Baker
Kajukenbo 5280 MMA Foundation
Under GM Jason Groff
Ordonez Kajukenbo Ohana

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2014, 12:26:03 AM »
Aloha Sifu Tim & Ron,

Like I said before the Government is not going to come looking for these violations.  They are going to only hear about it when a well educated and disgruntle volunteer/instructor decides to call them.  Then they will investigate and make a determination of weather that person truly is a volunteer. 
Today, it's not enough to simply get the blessing of one's teacher to open a school.  You almost need to take a class on small business.  Matter of fact, I would suggest it in some cases.  It couldn't hurt.

I agree with you both totally. 

I know this for a fact, the State of Hawaii and the Federal Government does not have the resources to investigate martial arts schools that open their doors for 2 hours 3x a week.  But, if your school is open 10 hours, six days a week, have several branches, and your income is substantial, you might have someone with authority come visit you with a subpoena.  This subject (post) is to apprise all to be prepare and expect the consequences.

Mahalo,

Gerry Scott           
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 12:59:59 AM by Kalihi/Palama Boy »

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2014, 07:12:42 AM »

Somewhere in the FLSA they mention waivers and how they are not acceptable.  Like I said before the Government is not going to come looking for these violations.  They are going to only hear about it when a well educated and disgruntle volunteer/instructor decides to call them.  Then they will investigate and make a determination of weather that person truly is a volunteer. 

By the way, if you do want to pay your instructors be careful on classify them as Independent contractors.  You will most likely loose if you require them to teach a set curriculum and dictate the hours they have to keep.  As for interns also be careful, many companies have been getting away with not paying for years.  Recently here in California these interns have been suing and winning at least minimum wage for their hours worked.  When I was a student teacher.  I got paid the same amount as a regular 1st year teacher but then again I had a full class schedule and not just one class.  Best thing to do is always talk to a lawyer and look for case law.

100% correct.  I can have my employees as independent contractors because they pick what they teach, the classes they teach, and their hours.  I have openings, they decide who fills what, and while the WHKD requirements exist, for those classes they are free to teach those in the manner they deem best.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2014, 07:14:12 AM »
As to paid instructors, I understand the opinions.  But is there any harm to Kajukenbo if those who run a business also happen to pay one or more of their instructors?

I don't see why there would be.  You can have integrity in a system, and pay people.  I can't even teach my art properly without decent equipment to use (for safety's sake) and insurance to cover me and my family, and that costs money.  So money is always part of the equation.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com

Offline cirillo

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2014, 09:49:29 AM »
Yes, all that means is that you have to set it up as a training program and they must have specific hurdles that they need to overcome as part of the program.  That can easily be done with black belts that teach on their own.  You only need to evaluate them periodically and document it.  That is pretty easy and probably pretty much what everyone already does, they just need to talk about it correctly, with some understanding of the applicable laws.

No, most of these are not graduate students.  They range from 16 years old (that is the youngest we can do) to post-doctoral degree individuals.  Usually each program is individualized for each person, but there is no overarching program for them.  We just bring them in as volunteers and train them.  It is seriously no different than having an unpaid black belt teaching classes while you take tuition.  It is not a problem at all, you just have to document what you are doing and why, showing that you would not pay someone for the same work.  Now, if you were to take one black belt and pay them and another and not pay, that would be a problem, only if they had the same experience and background and were receiving the same training from you.  If, however, they were a BJJ instructor and you paid them to teach BJJ, but took a Kaj black belt and made them teach Kaj. volunteer, you would be OK.  You would have a good justification that they are doing different jobs and that you were training the Kaj. black belt to be an instructor in Kaj.  Simple, yes?

No, they don't receive degrees.  No, there is no program dictated by anyone other than myself.

I don't think anyone here thinks that their black belts that teach do the same job that the head instructor does.  They don't have the experience the head instructor does (otherwise, why are they with you?).  Also, the buck stops with the head instructor, both literally and figuratively (liability, for example).  There is no question about who is in charge, who pays the bills, etc.  No, their job is not the same as the head instructor and no, they are not usually ready to teach on their own.  That is the whole point of having them teach for free.  It is training for them in numerous ways that make them a better instructor, should they ever wish to go out on their own, but also makes them better martial artists.  Personally, I did this, both for GM Dacascos and for Sifu Bill Owens.  I saw no reason that I should be paid and I saw no other instructors doing the same job getting paid.  I see no problem.

By the way, both GM Dacascos and Sifu Owens had teaching time as part of their curriculum requirements for black belts, so they ALREADY have the appropriate program for volunteer work.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 10:01:20 AM by cirillo »
Sifu Jeffrey D. Cirillo,  7th Degree Black belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do under GM Al Dacascos and 3rd Degree in FaChuan (Blossom Fist) under Sifu Bill Owens with over 35 years experience in the martial arts.
College Station, TX

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #35 on: March 14, 2014, 10:16:35 AM »
Yes, all that means is that you have to set it up as a training program and they must have specific hurdles that they need to overcome as part of the program.  That can easily be done with black belts that teach on their own.  You only need to evaluate them periodically and document it.  That is pretty easy and probably pretty much what everyone already does, they just need to talk about it correctly, with some understanding of the applicable laws.

No, most of these are not graduate students.  They range from 16 years old (that is the youngest we can do) to post-doctoral degree individuals.  Usually each program is individualized for each person, but there is no overarching program for them.  We just bring them in as volunteers and train them.  It is seriously no different than having an unpaid black belt teaching classes while you take tuition.  It is not a problem at all, you just have to document what you are doing and why, showing that you would not pay someone for the same work.  Now, if you were to take one black belt and pay them and another and not pay, that would be a problem, only if they had the same experience and background and were receiving the same training from you.  If, however, they were a BJJ instructor and you paid them to teach BJJ, but took a Kaj black belt and made them teach Kaj. volunteer, you would be OK.  You would have a good justification that they are doing different jobs and that you were training the Kaj. black belt to be an instructor in Kaj.  Simple, yes?

No, they don't receive degrees.  No, there is no program dictated by anyone other than myself.

I don't think anyone here thinks that their black belts that teach do the same job that the head instructor does.  They don't have the experience the head instructor does (otherwise, why are they with you?).  Also, the buck stops with the head instructor, both literally and figuratively (liability, for example).  There is no question about who is in charge, who pays the bills, etc.  No, their job is not the same as the head instructor and no, they are not usually ready to teach on their own.  That is the whole point of having them teach for free.  It is training for them in numerous ways that make them a better instructor, should they ever wish to go out on their own, but also makes them better martial artists.  Personally, I did this, both for GM Dacascos and for Sifu Bill Owens.  I saw no reason that I should be paid and I saw no other instructors doing the same job getting paid.  I see no problem.

By the way, both GM Dacascos and Sifu Owens had teaching time as part of their curriculum requirements for black belts, so they ALREADY have the appropriate program for volunteer work.

I still don't think your training analogy can really apply to most black belt instructors, as most head instructors don't provide the rigorous training that your academic analogy provides, nor the documentation.  In GM Dacascos' school, where I did most of my training, the black belt instructors basically ran the school for free.  They signed people up, taught most of the classes, and opened/closed the gym, as well as cleaned it.  If it is just an instructor training program that is one thing--but that would require a paid front office manager to do all the paperwork and running of the business particulars, which is not the norm in the model we are speaking of.

Additionally, in your academic model, there is far more direct supervision than in the instructor model.  For example, I am sure your students meet with you regularly to go over the data they are generating, as well as lab meetings, etc.  The gym equivalent would be if the head instructor observed each black belt instructor at least once/weekly and provided documented feedback.  Again, this rarely happens.

As a result, you are basically just getting free labor, which is what the law objects to.

Now, for under black belts in WHKD, there is a teaching requirement as you know (200 hours in my gym).  These are all supervised hours (helping lead a class with another instructor on the mat, etc).  In this case, it is an educational program, because of the direct supervision.


To summarize, if the head instructor is observing the black belt teaching (even from the office, etc), he is fine; but if that same black belt leads the classes on their own in the absence of the head instructor and he has other duties such as signing up new students, opening/closing, cleaning, etc, then they are an employee no matter how you try and dress it up.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com

Offline cirillo

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #36 on: March 14, 2014, 10:23:46 AM »

So, basically, what you are saying in a long way is that you DO understand that it isn't that hard to avoid breaking the law and still have black belts that teach classes volunteer.  I have outlined how to do it.  You DO NOT need to be present during their teaching.  You DO need to evaluate them.  It DOES need to be documented and part of their training.  You CAN NOT have someone else doing the same job and getting paid for it.

Now, whether you choose to have volunteer black belts teaching classes is up to you, but doing it within the law is not that hard.
Sifu Jeffrey D. Cirillo,  7th Degree Black belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do under GM Al Dacascos and 3rd Degree in FaChuan (Blossom Fist) under Sifu Bill Owens with over 35 years experience in the martial arts.
College Station, TX

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #37 on: March 14, 2014, 10:59:26 AM »
I disagree on the present part.  How do you evaluate their instruction without being present?  Have students fill weekly evaluations?  Also, if they are opening/closing (and you thus aren't present), you again run into problems.

So I am saying that yes, you can have volunteer instructors, but not in the manner post school owners do it (which I have already outlined).

So it is easy in the theory, but not in practice, since you lose the free labor advantages that is the general underpinning of this tradition.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com

Offline cirillo

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #38 on: March 14, 2014, 11:23:39 AM »
A wise man once said "The best way to judge an instructor is by their students".  No, you do not need to be present to evaluate someone.  That can be done in many other accurate ways.  Sometimes observing, but mostly you don't really need to be there.  Opening/closing the school can also be training, and probably should be in most cases, as well as doing the books, taking fees, signing up students... it is still true that this is important experience for instructors.

You seem to have a pretty low opinion of most school owners' ethics.  I hope that most people can see that it would be unethical to have someone do a job that they should be paid for, for free.  However, I have a higher opinion of them (possibly misplaced in some cases, granted), believing that they are training their black belts to be better teachers and training them in how to run a school.  See, one is positive and one is negative.  You can bet the lawyers will come out on both sides, depending which is their client.  If handled ethically, the head instructor should be OK.  Handled poorly, the head instructor will be in trouble.

I choose to think that most people will handle it ethically and I am sticking with that assumption (innocent until proven guilty).  I am sure you understand.

No, I don't think that the 'the free labor advantages...(are) the general underpinning of this tradition'.  No, I believe that the tradition comes out of the martial arts instructor's desire to teach the student that money is not the reason that they teach and that the best way to learn something correctly is to teach it.  Once again, your assumption is that philosophies in martial arts are driven by greed.  In fact, the history of martial arts would argue otherwise, that the philosophies are there to help teach (discipline, hierarchy, pain, suffering, difficulty, etc.).  Only recently has greed become more of an issue and people have begun to take advantage of the tradition.  Therefore, the tradition is not the problem, but modern methods, greed and poor ethics are the problem.  Personally, I do not believe that a true martial artist has this problem because there is almost always an inverse correlation between the quality of instruction and the price.

Once again, I settle on the, call it idealistic, view that the instructors are going to be ethical and can and will use black belt volunteers for teaching properly.
Sifu Jeffrey D. Cirillo,  7th Degree Black belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do under GM Al Dacascos and 3rd Degree in FaChuan (Blossom Fist) under Sifu Bill Owens with over 35 years experience in the martial arts.
College Station, TX

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #39 on: March 14, 2014, 11:56:15 AM »
My issue is that I don't see how opening/closing, doing books, inputting new students, cleaning, etc aren't jobs you are paid for.  I am paid for them when I do them, as the gym owner, so if I have someone else do them, they should be paid for that work as well.  Do I pay them during the time I am training them on those tasks, no.  However, once they are doing them, they are doing what was my paid work, that I am chosing to have someone else to do.  Hence I pay them.

Also, how long can a black belt being doing these duties as training?  I can see it lasting for 6 mo for free, but how many years of cleaning/inputting, etc is needed before someone is trained?   Many gym owners I know have their black belts doing these things for free, for years.

Speaking of ethics, I run a full time gym as a side hobby.  Because I pay all my instructors a reasonably hourly rate, I see very little of the gym's profits.  If I had all my WHKD instructors teach for free, I would see another $800 or so a month in cash into my pocket.  Money is always a consideration, otherwise there wouldn't be the objection I see here on these forums to the notion of paying people.  Now if the head instructor doesn't have the profits to pay himself or his instructors, that is a different story, and in those cases the gym could be classified as a hobby, not a business anyway, and avoid these issues from the get-go.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com

Offline cirillo

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2014, 12:12:52 PM »

The standard cutoff in Kajukenbo and WHKD is around 3rd degree, when someone gets to Chief Instructor, or Sifu.  If people hold to the 3 years/degree time requirement, that would be about 6 years post-black belt rank.  I still don't see a problem, as long as it is done properly.
Sifu Jeffrey D. Cirillo,  7th Degree Black belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do under GM Al Dacascos and 3rd Degree in FaChuan (Blossom Fist) under Sifu Bill Owens with over 35 years experience in the martial arts.
College Station, TX

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2014, 01:13:22 PM »
Well the IRS would disagree (there are cases of them coming after martial arts schools for this type of thing).  6 years of instructor teaching is one thing, but 6 years of training to learn how to clean, input people, open/close?  It doesn't pass the sniff test.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com

Offline cirillo

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2014, 03:49:49 PM »

Luckily, it is not up to your sniff test, it is up to the law.  As long as you are carrying it out as part of a standard curriculum and document it, you are fine.  Time is not the issue.  I am not surprised that there have been cases of abuse that have been prosecuted.  That is what the laws are for.  If you follow the law though and don't use your students unethically, you are fine.  You can disagree with how someone trains people.  Clearly, the student can also go somewhere else, but as long as their training program is clear about it and consistently applies the rules, they don't have to pay you for it, they can even charge you for the training.

I face these issues all the time in my work.  I love it when someone tells me that I can't do something.  I always figure out how to do it and get it done.  There will always be people out there that say "You can't do this, you can't do that."  Quoting rules here and there, right and left.  Our job as free individuals is to fight the people that use the rules to keep other people from doing what they know is right.  There will always be people that will abuse those freedoms and use the rules unethically.  Of course, I am not talking about those people.  I am talking about those people that do it right, train their people properly and have a rigorous system in place to ensure the students are advancing.
Sifu Jeffrey D. Cirillo,  7th Degree Black belt in Wun Hop Kuen Do under GM Al Dacascos and 3rd Degree in FaChuan (Blossom Fist) under Sifu Bill Owens with over 35 years experience in the martial arts.
College Station, TX

Offline Ron Baker

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2014, 04:42:20 PM »
You seem to have a pretty low opinion of most school owners' ethics.  I hope that most people can see that it would be unethical to have someone do a job that they should be paid for, for free.  However, I have a higher opinion of them (possibly misplaced in some cases, granted), believing that they are training their black belts to be better teachers and training them in how to run a school.  See, one is positive and one is negative.  You can bet the lawyers will come out on both sides, depending which is their client.  If handled ethically, the head instructor should be OK.  Handled poorly, the head instructor will be in trouble.

I choose to think that most people will handle it ethically and I am sticking with that assumption (innocent until proven guilty).  I am sure you understand.

No, I don't think that the 'the free labor advantages...(are) the general underpinning of this tradition'.  No, I believe that the tradition comes out of the martial arts instructor's desire to teach the student that money is not the reason that they teach and that the best way to learn something correctly is to teach it.  Once again, your assumption is that philosophies in martial arts are driven by greed.  In fact, the history of martial arts would argue otherwise, that the philosophies are there to help teach (discipline, hierarchy, pain, suffering, difficulty, etc.).  Only recently has greed become more of an issue and people have begun to take advantage of the tradition.  Therefore, the tradition is not the problem, but modern methods, greed and poor ethics are the problem.  Personally, I do not believe that a true martial artist has this problem because there is almost always an inverse correlation between the quality of instruction and the price.

Once again, I settle on the, call it idealistic, view that the instructors are going to be ethical and can and will use black belt volunteers for teaching properly.
Not to choose sides, but I don't think that's a fair assessment of Sifu Jason's position--at least the way I'm following it.

Analogies of academic and other internships notwithstanding, if a Martial Arts instructor is tasked with the duties and responsibilities that are substantially similar to and consistent with those of the school/academy/gym owner, then in most states this rises to the level of an employer-employee relationship.  Sifu Jason and others have consistently pointed this out.  And yes, to know what the law allows and then set about circumventing it might indeed call a school owner's business ethics into question.  However, to simply illuminate that fact doesn't mean that one has a "pretty low opinion of most school owners' ethics."

Moreover, to acknowledge that greed in the martial arts business exists is fair.  But it's only fair to also acknowledge that greed in "Traditional" martial arts also exists (remember: Traditional school owners are usually in business, too).   
Sigung (Shihan) Ron Baker
Kajukenbo 5280 MMA Foundation
Under GM Jason Groff
Ordonez Kajukenbo Ohana

Offline Jason Goldsmith

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Re: To Pay or Not to Pay Instructors
« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2014, 04:45:58 PM »

Luckily, it is not up to your sniff test, it is up to the law.  As long as you are carrying it out as part of a standard curriculum and document it, you are fine.  Time is not the issue.  I am not surprised that there have been cases of abuse that have been prosecuted.  That is what the laws are for.  If you follow the law though and don't use your students unethically, you are fine.  You can disagree with how someone trains people.  Clearly, the student can also go somewhere else, but as long as their training program is clear about it and consistently applies the rules, they don't have to pay you for it, they can even charge you for the training.

I face these issues all the time in my work.  I love it when someone tells me that I can't do something.  I always figure out how to do it and get it done.  There will always be people out there that say "You can't do this, you can't do that."  Quoting rules here and there, right and left.  Our job as free individuals is to fight the people that use the rules to keep other people from doing what they know is right.  There will always be people that will abuse those freedoms and use the rules unethically.  Of course, I am not talking about those people.  I am talking about those people that do it right, train their people properly and have a rigorous system in place to ensure the students are advancing.

Absolutely.  If you monitor and document it properly, then you are in the clear, or will have the evidence needed to fight off prosecution.  I doubt most instructors have that, however.  Also, I do believe time is an issue--how many years can you train someone at such basic tasks before it is not training?

Lastly, regarding the ethics of the whole thing:  If money is not the motivation for most instructors, why not simply pay your black belts while training them to teach and run their own schools?  Even a pay rate of $10/hour will stave off all of these concerns, and filing 1099-MISC is one of the easiest tax things to both document and do--far easier than documenting all of the education.  Plus, they can use those monies to build a small nest egg over the course of the aforementioned 6 years to start their own gym.  Additionally, it says something about your respect for your black belts, and they will likely work harder.  My undergrad PI, for example, paid me not because he had to, but because he felt people worked harder if they were paid.
Sifu Jason Goldsmith
5th Degree, Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu
Under GM Al Dacascos
Instructor--WHKD
Durham NC and Philadelphia PA
www.tkfmma.com