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21st Oct 2018

Contract types in esports

Have you ever wondered what the different contract types on our website mean? Allow the Hitmarker team to walk you through them all so that you can better understand their intricacies.

Welcome back to the careers advice section on Hitmarker, where we break down the ins-and-outs of landing a job in esports or gaming. On our list now is contract types you'll find in the industries!

On Hitmarker there are five different contract types, and we believe that it’s important for you to know exactly what they all mean before you begin applying for jobs:

  • Full Time (always paid)
  • Part Time (always paid)
  • Freelance (always paid)
  • Internship (sometimes paid)
  • Volunteer (never paid)

The tricky thing when it comes to esports is that there are jobs on almost all continents, which means different regulations relating to minimum pay and minimum hours.

Given that the vast, vast majority of our audience comes from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, most of what we will discuss pertaining to the legalities of contract types will be influenced by the laws of those fine countries.

Let’s begin with the most prominent contract type on our free esports & gaming jobs board…

1. Full Time

Full Time jobs now account for around 75% of all roles posted on Hitmarker, which is pretty great going when you consider how new of an industry esports is.

It should go without saying, but if you see a full time position on the board then you should expect it to be paid at the legal minimum wage in the locale it’s being posted from.

In the good old USA, the federal minimum wage for non-tipped employees is $7.25 per hour, but many states have their own minimum wages laws in place. If you’re applying for a full time job in the US then it would be great practice to research if the state the job is based in has its own law.

In Canada, there is no federal minimum wage and each of the ten provinces set their own rate. The current range sees Alberta at the top of the tree with $15 per hour and Saskatchewan bringing up the rear at $11.32 per hour.

It’s important to note that each province reviews their rate every year, so these numbers are liable to change!

In our very own UK the national minimum wage depends on your age. As of January 2020, those who are 25 and over have to earn at least £8.21 per hour, while those aged between 21 and 24 get at least £7.70 per hour. People aged 18 to 20 get £6.15 per hour, those under 18 are entitled to £4.35 per hour and Apprentices need to be paid at least £3.90 per hour.

Much like Canada, the UK reviews its national minimum wage every year and it is set to rise again in 2020.

As well as coming with a minimum wage, full time roles will usually be offered with benefits and perks attached (like a mandatory 28 days of paid holiday here in the UK). If you don’t see things you would expect to be entitled to listed in the job description, be sure to ask about them if you make it through to interview!

Finally, if you do end up at the interview stage of the process for a “full time” job in esports and discover that it has been falsely advertised please inform us at [email protected] so we can take action.

We’re very committed to ensuring that every job posted on our board is on the up-and-up, but unfortunately some rogue agents can slip through the cracks occasionally!

2. Part Time

Surprisingly, part time esports jobs are the least common type posted on Hitmarker. So if you’re looking for some flexibility in your esports career then you’re already at a bit of a disadvantage.

However, they DO exist and like their full time brothers they should always come with pay attached to them (along with some rights).

The interesting thing about part time roles is that their hours can vary enormously, so you’ll see some jobs just asking for 5-10 hours of your time and others that ask for 25-30. The good thing about this is that you can theoretically find multiple part time roles in esports and add the salaries up to earn a nice little living from them.

One thing to be careful of is that you’ll be less protected in the USA if going for part time work because the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not address this type of employment.

In Canada things again depend on the province you’ll be working in, with Ontario being the most progressive on this front. In April 2018 they introduced an “equal pay for equal work” rule, meaning that part time employees are paid the same rate as their full time colleagues. In doing so they became the first jurisdiction in North America to have such a rule. Nice going, Ontario!

In the UK part time workers are also protected from being treated less favorably than equivalent full time workers. They get the same treatment for pay rates, pension opportunities, holidays, training and career development, selection for promotion and opportunities for career breaks. So all-in-all you’re pretty well covered if you’re looking for part time esports work on this fair isle!

So they may be rare in esports but if you’re looking for flexibility in your working schedule then you should definitely keep an eye out for part time roles, especially if you’re in Ontario or the United Kingdom!

3. Freelance

We have to begin this section by stating one final time, for the record, loud enough for the people in the back, that working “freelance” does not mean working for free. Being freelance means you’re an independent contractor who works for yourself and not an employee of a company.

Now that’s out of the way, we can tell you that freelance roles are still on the rise in esports and now account for around 3.5% of all roles posted on Hitmarker!

You’ll typically find freelance roles in the more creative sectors (especially when it comes to graphic design), but they are becoming more prevalent in other areas too.

The thing with freelance contracts is that they’re a little harder to regulate and they rely on you to do your own taxes, but if you’re comfortable with that then they’re a great way to earn money in esports (because like full time and part time roles they’re also always paid.)

If you're not familiar with freelance work but think it might suit you, then this link will undoubtedly prove useful to you moving forward!

In the US freelancers usually take contracts on a project basis and the contracts should typically lay out the work that needs to be done, the deliverables expected, deadlines for completion and payment terms. Freelancers can be paid on an hourly or per project basis and are not covered by any federal minimum wage regulations.

However, if you’re looking for freelance work with a US organization you should know that you can’t be told your exact hours or when to work. If you feel like you have less control than the organization, then the likelihood is that they should be offering a part time or full time role rather than a freelance one.

In Canada, things aren’t too much different, but again it varies on a province-by-province basis. The same concerns pertaining to control exist, while you’re also supposed to provide your own equipment and you can’t hire assistants or sub-contract work.

In the United Kingdom, things are similar once again (thankfully), with freelancers being self-employed, responsible for their own taxes and National Insurance contributions (NICs), and not entitled to the same rights as employees.

So all we’ll finish with here is that if you’re going for freelance roles you’d better be prepared to be self-employed, to handle your own taxes and to make sure an organization isn’t asking for too much control over how you operate. Take the time to read up on exactly what the definition of a "freelancer" in your location is and learn your rights!

4. Internships

Even though we’re European (for a little while longer at least) we’ve gone with “Internship” rather than “Apprenticeship” on Hitmarker because over 60% of our user base is in North America and most of these sorts of roles emanate from there.

Internships are intended for younger candidates, who are often still studying or just recently graduated, to give them real-world experience of working in esports.

These positions are typically offered by only the biggest esports organizations. So if you see an internship role being offered by a small team then we’re not doing our jobs right, because those roles should be listed as “volunteer”.

The whole idea behind an internship is that it’s a period of work experience offered for a limited amount of time. If you see an internship that’s being offered for what looks like an indefinite length of time then tread carefully because it’s probably not a true internship and someone is just looking for you to work for them... for free.

Internships are normally unpaid, but thankfully we are seeing an uptick in the number of paid opportunities being offered. Most times you’ll at least have travel expenses and some other expenses being covered so that you don’t end up out of pocket for giving up your time, but sadly a lot of companies will just expect that the future upside to working with them outweighs your need for immediate financial compensation.

We see both sides of the coin on internships and have benefited from unpaid ones in the past ourselves, so can never really knock them. The crucial thing is that YOU can afford to take an unpaid internship for a period of time, that’s all the matters!

Internships are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the USA and there are six standards that must be met for them to be unpaid. Make sure you know your rights as an intern and keep a close eye on job descriptions before applying!

Canada doesn’t have many laws pertaining to internships, and again they are handled on a provincial basis. In certain provinces like British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario unpaid internships are illegal unless they fall under an exception, but in other provinces they are always legal.

In the UK things are more complicated, with interns entitled to the National Minimum Wage if they count as a worker or have been promised a contract of future paid work.

Interns aren’t due a minimum wage if they are students undertaking an internship for less than one year as part of a higher education course, or if they are on a school work placement. Also, if an intern is only shadowing someone without doing any actual work themselves they are not entitled to any pay.

So, the key takeaways here are to pay close attention to the size of the organization offering the internship, whether the internship has a set timescale attached to it and where the internship is to be based. If you’re in any doubt at all, please contact us and we’ll do our best to help guide you!

5. Volunteer

These positions are the most controversial ones in esports, but happily they are the most straightforward to understand.

Volunteer roles are always unpaid and, as such, there are no laws (either federal or otherwise) governing them if both parties agree to the terms.

Whether you agree or disagree with us posting volunteer positions on esports, they are a necessity in such a new industry.

We have no issue with small organizations who have no obvious form of income and are looking to build something in the scene asking for volunteer workers. However, we do take issue with larger organizations who clearly COULD afford to pay someone to work for them but don’t.

There’s a very significant difference there. People have to start somewhere, and we can’t criticize those trying to get something off the ground with a little free help from their friends.

If you’re in a fortunate enough position to not NEED payment for your time then a volunteer role could be a great way to gain valuable esports experience.

However, if you do need to be earning something then our advice would always be to find a paying job (even outside of esports) and to do some voluntary esports work on the side to build your resume. A lot of great people in esports got started this way, and you can too.

That's a wrap! Those are the five types of contract you'll find on Hitmarker and a little bit of information about each one... remember to know your rights BEFORE applying for roles, rather than when it's too late!

Image credit: DreamHack / Alexander Scott