What to Ask a Workamper Employer During an Interview

Workampers often find out by experience that additional question they should have asked. Since interviews are often by telephone and you may never see the place of employment until you show up for work, it is imperative to find out all you can before driving a distance to accept a job.

“I Shoulda Asked…” by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak for Workamper News Workamper.com

A bridge too low cost a Workamper couple a job in Oregon. If only they had asked…

When a Workamper couple showed up for work at the Port of Cascade Locks, Oregon, they found that their 13-foot high RV wouldn’t fit under the 12-foot bridge crossing the road to the job site. The would-be-employer kindly assisted in finding another Workamping situation for the couple and their too-tall RV, by helping them secure a position (without the clearance problem) with a U.S. Forest Service site nearby. Now, the Port of Cascade Locks “help wanted” ad reads, “Workamper needed. Must have RV (under 12′ high).”

Who would think to ask about a bridge? Workampers often find out by experience that additional question they should have asked. Since interviews are often by telephone and you may never see the place of employment until you show up for work, it is imperative to find out all you can before driving a distance to accept a job.

I recommend starting a list of questions to ask potential employers either on your computer or in a notebook. Learn from your fellow Workampers. Add to the list as you hear of other experiences like the one above. While you might not want to ask specifically about bridges, you could ask if a rig your length will have any trouble getting to the work site; clearances, tight turns, overhanging limbs.

Below are some questions to get you started.

Duties

  1. What tasks will you be expected to perform? If you have a strong conviction about doing or not doing a particular task (cleaning restrooms for example) and it could be an elimination factor for you, or the employer, now is the time to ask.
  2. What level of physical exertion is normally required in the position you are applying for? If you have physical limitations (whether preferential or imposed by health) be honest about them.
  3. Will you be working mostly indoors or outdoors? If you are unable to work outdoors because of inclement weather, will you be: paid anyhow, able to make up the hours or, paid based on the actual hours worked?

Pay

  1. If you are to be paid a salary – What is the salary? Is the salary per couple or per person?
  2. How many hours of work are required to earn this salary? Will you be paid for any hours worked beyond that and at what rate? If you will not be compensated for additional hours worked in a salaried position be wary of the position.
  3. If you are working in exchange for your site, do the required hours apply to both of you individually, or as a couple/team? (i.e.; the “20 hours” stated in an ad could be 20 for the pair, or 20 for each of them for a total of 40). Although most Workampers anticipate that stated hours are “per couple/team” it is something you should always clarify during the interview. Consider the value of your time versus the cost of the site at a seasonal or monthly rate. We recommend a maximum of twenty hours per week per couple/team regardless of the stated cost of the site but, we’ll leave that up to you.
  4. If you work beyond the established number of exchange hours, will you get paid for those hours?
  5. What will the compensation be for the additional hours?
  6. If you are working for wages and a site, i.e. a set number of hours for the site plus pay for hours above that; What are the total hours expected? How many hours of work will be required to pay for the site ? What will the hourly pay be for those hours beyond the agreed upon time required to pay for the site?
  7. At what point, if any, will you get paid overtime pay? Most states have exemptions for paying overtime to workers unless they work more than an established number of hours in a week. Some states have rules related specifically to seasonal workers. You should know the rules for the state you are considering working in. If you are to be paid a salary, there may be no overtime pay. In the case of certain hours being exchanged for the site costs, will any overtime worked be computed based on total hours or paid hours? An employer can require reasonable overtime. Will you be compensated for it?
  8. Can the employer provide “direct deposit” to your bank if this is important to you?
  9. Will you be treated as a W-2 Employee or a 1099 Contractor? More on that here.

Hours

  1. What is the minimum number of hours per week required? What is the compensation for the minimum required hours? eg; – (FHU site, wages, laundry, cable, propane, or other perks whether free or at a discount)
  2. How many hours per week will you work? Some employers may expect 6-day weeks during the busy part of their season and/or you may get fewer hours of work at the beginning or end of the season. If you are depending on a certain income, you need to find this out up front if working for hourly wages.
  3. Will you and your spouse/partner work the same shifts or at least similar hours? If you will be driving to the job site, you may need the same hours to share transportation. This will also directly affect how much time you have to spend together doing other things when off duty.
  4. How are the work hours spread over the week?
  5. What are the work hours on a day by day basis? e.g.; Days required to be on the job versus days allowed to be away from the job. How are the work hours spread over the day? e.g.; Are split shifts required?
  6. Will both of you have the same days off? What days will those be? Keep in mind that particularly in summer jobs, weekends are often the busiest time for the employer and, generally speaking, days off will be weekdays.

RV Site

  1. Will one be provided? At what cost to you?
  2. Are full hookups included and/or available? If you have to move your rig every week or two the whole season to dump, that would be very inconvenient.
  3. Is your space adequately level and long/wide enough to accommodate your rig while leaving adequate parking for the tow/towed vehicle? If you are talking to an non-RVer, you need to get very specific particularly if you have slideouts on both sides and/or a long rig.
  4. In what area is your RV pad located? With other campers? Behind the maintenance shed? In the sun? Under the trees? This can be a factor if it is extremely hot, or if you need to use your solar panels. Is the site in an area that is so heavily wooded that your satellite dish will not acquire the satellite?
  5. What service amperage (20/30/50) will be provided and does voltage remain adequate during high use periods?
  6. What is the quality of cell phone reception within the park for your specific network? Is internet service or WiFi available? Is is the same network shared by all guests? What are the upload/download speeds? Or, if needed – are phone hookups available?
  7. Are pets allowed and what if any restrictions apply to types, number and size? If you’re a no-pet type person, are there areas where no pets are allowed that you may have a site in?

Other concerns and considerations

  1. What is the length of the season and/or the expected dates of the job stay? (Be absolutely honest about when you can arrive and when you must leave and then keep your word to the employer. They are relying on you. Some employers offer a bonus for staying your full contract. If they do, the bonus can amount to the equivalent of another week or more of pay. Don’t miss out on it by leaving before the specified time, unless you have cited unavoidable obligations elsewhere.)
  2. Does the employer provide any tools required or do you?
  3. Where is the nearest grocery and/or other shopping?
  4. Who you will be reporting to/supervised by?
  5. How many people will you be working with?
  6. Are you covered under a Worker’s Compensation policy if you are injured on the job?
  7. In the case of exchanging hours for a site, may one spouse work at the park for the required hours so the other can take employment elsewhere?
  8. What is the policy on smoking / alcohol / medical marijuana in the work place?
  9. Are there any special requirements for the job such as needing a CDL?
  10. How long have you been in business in this location?
  11. What is their policy on family emergencies should you need to leave for a few days?
  12. If a site is provided, is it required occupancy and can you get a written statement to that effect? If you are not required to live on site and you get an RV site as part of your compensation, you could owe income taxes on the fair market value of that site. If it is required, the employer can deduct the expense and you do not have to pay income tax on it.
  13. Are uniforms required? If so, who provides them? Will you have to buy new items of clothing?
  14. How far away is the nearest town, what size is it and does it have the things you personally find important (restaurants, banking, ATMs, shopping, church, theaters, other entertainment, etc)? If not, how far is it to a town that does?
  15. Where are the nearest medical facilities (Hospital, doctor, dentist, etc)?

It’s important to get as much information as you can about a Work camping job so you can make the best decision for you. If you do decide to move forward with an Employer, be sure to get as many of the above details in writing via a Work Agreement (video in our Media Library for WKN members) signed by both you and the Employer…BEFORE accepting the position.

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