Wages and Employment in The Outdoor Industry

by Owen Senior News

Wages and Employment in The Outdoor Industry

Are you being paid at least minimum wage while working in the Outdoor Industry?

Do you know the maximum your employer can charge you for accommodation?

Are you receiving your full holiday entitlement while working in the Outdoor Industry? 

Are you enrolled in a workplace pension? 

Are you employed legally? (This one is really, really worth checking)

Historically, wages in the outdoor and adventure sector have been low; outdoor staff often accepted a lower than average income.

Low wages were offset by the value of lifestyle and working in the great outdoors; generally work in the sector led to good job satisfaction,  good health and happiness.

Historically, low wages, offset accommodation, short term contracts, seasonal working and transient staff have all contributed to employee and workers rights appearing a little muddled in the outdoors when compared to other industries and sectors.Giant SUP Buddens Dorset

We thought we’d do our best to lay things out as clearly as possible. This blog got a bit bigger than we intended so, in summary, if your an employee or worker…

Your wages can’t be offset by more than £42 a week for accommodation if that reduction takes you below minimum wage

You’re entitled to paid holiday; your employer can’t choose just to pay you a bit extra instead of giving you paid holiday

You should be enrolled in a workplace pension (from April 2017)

You ARE a worker if you occasionally work for a company for reward and you are required to turn up for work and can’t send someone else to do the work for you.

Brace yourself and read on if you can bear it (You’re almost done when it ‘gets interesting’)…

Coasteering Training in Dorset

From the 1st of April 2017 the Law Says…

(source www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage)

If you’re 18 - 20 the minimum wage is £5.60, based on a 40 hour week this equates to a salary of £11,648

If you’re 21 - 24 the minimum wage is £6.95, based on a 40 hour week this equates to a salary of £14,664

If you’re 25 + the minimum wage is £7.50, based on a 40 hour week this equates to a salary of £15,600

You must be paid for every hour that you work.

If you’re getting paid less than this you must speak to your employer; they may not understand the law. If nothing changes contact ACAS and ask for their help, it’s a brilliant free service: www.acas.org.uk

SUP Surfing Swanage Bay

Paid Holiday in the Outdoor Industry 

You are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid holiday per year. If you only work part of a year (a season) you’re entitled to a marginal amount of holiday pay.

e.g if you work from the 1st of April - 31st of October 2017 your holiday entitlement is 16.4 days


The only time your employer can pay you extra instead of allowing you to take paid holiday is if you leave your job.White Water River Dart

Accommodation in the Outdoor Industry

Accommodation provided by an employer can be taken into account when calculating the national minimum wage.

Your employer can offset your wages by a maximum of £42 per week. 


From April 2017 if you’re 21 - 24 and get paid the minimum wage of £6.95 an hour or £278 per week you can be deducted a maximum of £42 from your wages per week for accommodation.

If you are paid minimum wage but get charged more than £42 per week for accommodation contact your employer, they may not understand the law, if nothing changes contact ACAS and ask for their help.

You may wish to direct your employer to this page.DSC_0010

Pensions in the Outdoor Industry

Your employer must provide a workplace pension or they will have to provide one from April 2017 or they will have to provide one from April 2018.

How soon your employer needs to provide a workplace pension depends on the on the size of the company or organisation you work for.

At Land & Wave we employ 15 people full time and 35 people on a seasonal basis, we must provide workplace pensions from April 2017.

If you don’t receive a workplace pension, ask your employer when you’ll be enrolled in one, they should know the exact date.

You can opt out of a workplace pension but your employer can’t make you.

If you’re concerned about the way your employer is dealing with automatic enrolment or managing your workplace pension, you can contact The Pensions Regulator.Sam sup

Really important things to think about

You’re an ‘employee’ if you work under an employment contract, usually laid out in signed terms and conditions: www.gov.uk/employment-status/employee

This is where it gets interesting 

You’re a ‘worker’ if…

  • You have an arrangement to do work for a reward (pay or benefits)
  • You have to turn up for work even when you don’t want to
  • You have no, or limited, rights to send someone else to do your work (subcontract)

Some companies and organisations try and get out of providing even the basic employment rights by describing all staff without long term employment contracts as ‘freelancers’.

If you occasionally work for a company for reward and you are required to turn up for work and can’t send someone else to do your work for you then you are a worker and have important employment rights, including;

  • National Minimum Wage
  • the statutory minimum level of paid holiday
  • Your employer must enrol you into a pension scheme (from April 2017) if you earn more than £112 per week



Land & Wave pays it’s first year instructors £15912, which equals £7.65 an hour, regardless of how old they are.

In the past, staff working for Land & Wave have worked more than their contracted hours and not been paid any extra, we didn’t have systems in place to accurately log and update working hours. Over the last three years, we’ve developed our software to allow us to allocate and adjust staff hours very accurately.

As of April this year, Land & Wave will be automatically enrolling staff in a workplace pension scheme.

All the information provided above has been drawn from www.gov.uk and the pensions regulator. It’s black and white. If you’re an employee or worker, you have employment rights that your employer cannot withhold from you.

If you have any concerns talk to your employer, they’ll probably be really happy to help.

ACAS are brilliant if you don’t get a positive response from your employer:  www.acas.org.uk

Land & Wave is currently recruiting Instructors, Team Leaders and Lead Instructors 

We run a 4 month Outdoor Instructor Training Course every year - we’re really proud of it.