Is there workers’ compensation liability in non-monetary bartering agreements?

UPDATED: Feb 23, 2012

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Is there workers’ compensation liability in non-monetary bartering agreements?

I am a fashion photographer. In the industry, we have something called “test shoots” or sometimes colloquially known as “time for print (TFP)”. In this scenario, no monetary exchange occurs, but a photographer, model, stylist(s), etc. enter into an agreement (either verbal or written) to organize a shoot for the benefit of each other’s portfolios. In such a bartering scenario, is there any workers’ compensation liability? If so, who is responsible party? I am primarily initiating and organizing these shoots, and I wasn’t sure if the individuals involved would be considered “volunteers”.

Asked on February 23, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Rhode Island


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There would be no worker's compensation in this scenario, since none of you are employees of the other(s); instead, your relationship is that of independent contractors, since you are non-employees contracting to provide services (in exchange for other services, rather than in exchange for monetary compensation). Independent contractors do not receive (and do not have to pay for, for other contractors) worker's compensation. Note if any of you deliberately or negligently (carelessly) injure another, that person may be liable, the same as anyone who intentionally or negligently injures another could be liable.

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