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    Compensation, Benefits & Work Authorization

Backroads Seasonal Trip Leaders: Compensation, Benefits & Work Authorization


Why Backroads?
Where do we start? Dream Job. Best Job in the World. We don't want to put words in your mouth but it's true that Backroads is consistently on Outside Magazine's list of "Best Places to Work" and over 90% of our leaders return to lead year after year. And that's just the start of it. Working for Backroads means you will:

  • Have an office that is constantly changing—in all the most beautiful parts of the world.
  • Be outside on a daily basis, being active and healthy.
  • Challenge yourself, physically and mentally, developing leadership skills and friendships that you will carry with you forever.
  • Be part of a continually growing company that provides extensive mentorship, embraces transparent management practices and provides dynamic career opportunities.

Now Getting Down to Business...

Backroads began in 1979 as an innovative active travel company. Now the industry leader in active travel, we offer more biking, walking and multisport trips in more locations worldwide than any other company. In order to accomplish this, in addition to our company headquarters in Berkeley, California, Backroads has created three logistical hubs: Salt Lake City, Utah; Canmore, Alberta (near Banff) Canada; and "801 France" in Pernes-les-Fontaines (in Provence), France.

To be an employee of Backroads, an individual must be legally authorized to work in the U.S., Canada or France. Our European subsidiary (located in France, and our legal working hub for all Europeans), can only employ citizens of countries in the European Economic Community (EEC)* or people who hold a French work permit.

Leaders based in the U.S., Canada and Europe are eligible to work in Europe, and we do send a small number of new leaders overseas in their first season. The key factors in determining European trip leading schedules are language skills, European travel experience, and the ability to confidently drive a manual transmission van, pulling a trailer with guests in the vehicle with you. Unfortunately, Backroads cannot sponsor an individual seeking a work visa. Work permits or visas must be obtained separately, on the applicants own, prior to being considered for a Trip Leader position.

* The following countries are in the European Economic Community (EEC): Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, UK*.

Leader Compensation & Benefits

Backroads' compensation and benefits package sets the standard in the active travel industry. Our leaders are hired as employees of Backroads which entitles them to benefits that are not provided by companies that pay leaders as independent contractors. On top of the most generous base pay rates in the industry, Backroads leaders receive a significant portion of their compensation in gratuities from guests. Our industry leading position and higher average number of guests per trip translates into tips that usually double and occasionally triple a first year leader's per trip income. On top of this, our many perks and benefits minimize out-of-pocket costs so saving money for now and the future is a reality. Here is more information to help you make an informed decision about whether or not being a Backroads trip leader is the right job for you.

Amount of Work
Trip Leader earning potential depends on amount and type of work. This means, for example, that New Leaders who graduate from earlier Leadership Training Programs have greater earning potential because they will be available for work sooner. Time off requests can limit earning potential, for more information visit the FAQs page. In 2017 New Leaders worked an average of 103 days from late spring through October. During this period of time they worked an average of 5-6 weeks as a Trip Leader and 5-6 weeks as a Support Leader. The rest of the 103 days were spent preparing for a trip, traveling, training, loading equipment, driving vans, becoming familiar with regions and maintaining equipment. During the same time period, high performing second year leaders worked an average of 10 weeks as Trip Leaders, and 2 weeks as Support Leaders (plus ancillary work driving, etc.). Earning potential and opportunities to lead year-round grows in a Leader's second year and beyond.

Trip Leaders are hired as "seasonal" employees and their season is a six-month period starting when they attend training. Seasonal Trip Leaders can expect to wrap up work on or before Oct 31. Some seasonal Leaders are scheduled for work during our winter "peak" (generally late Dec/early Jan) based on performance and business need. On or before October 31st, leaders will be notified of their status for the next year, and there are 3 possible status options: (1) seasonal Leader (6 month or shorter season), (2) extended seasonal Leader (greater than 6 month season), (3) year-round Leader (leader works on a near year-round basis).

Pay & Gratuities
Detailed information about compensation will be provided during the interview stage of our hiring process.

While on trip working as a Trip Leader, Support Leader or as a member of the Camp Crew, food is provided. Food allowances are also provided for prep days, travel days, drive days, and regional familiarization days. On top of these allowances Backroads Leaders receive phone stipends and have access to Backroads' computers.

Lodging is provided while Leaders are on trips, either in hotels or at campsites depending on the trip type. Housing is also provided between trips, so Backroads field staff will not incur any out of pocket expenses for lodging during the entire season. Many of our regions worldwide have "leader houses" in wonderful places that are available to all Field Staff free of charge while working, and in between trips. In Europe: Tuscany, Puglia, Provence, Loire Valley, Dordogne, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland. In the USA: Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Anacortes, Washington; Portland, Maine; Whitefish, Montana; Berkeley, California; Stowe, Vermont; Anchorage, Alaska; St. George, Utah; In Canada: Outside Banff, Nova Scotia, Québec. And other international locales such as: Wanaka, New Zealand; San José, Costa Rica. Standard with these accommodations are computers, wireless internet and access to bikes for personal use.

Backroads provides all work related travel throughout the course of the season. It is a Leader's responsibility to travel to their hub (Salt Lake, Canmore or Pernes Les Fontaines) at the beginning of the season and home from their hub at the end of the season. Leaders enjoy keeping their own frequent flyer miles for personal travel, and may choose to stopover or extend their stay in desired locales within work-sponsored itineraries. While it's a Leader's responsibility to cover travel costs to and from a hub at the start and end of a Leaders' season, Backroads provides all travel to trip destinations during a working season.

Recreational Benefits
Backroads also offers several benefits to leaders that are of a more recreational nature, including (but not limited to) generous discounts with brand-name equipment and clothing companies; Backroads labeled gear (items vary each year); Backroads trip discounts to family and friends; and our version of the company picnic: a weeklong "Staff Ride" in Northern Thailand, Slovenia, Crete, Spain, Tuscany, Mallorca, Vietnam or the California coast (to name a recent few).

Joie de Vivre
Perhaps the most valuable benefit is enjoying a lifestyle few can match. In addition to itineraries that feature some of the worlds' best hotels, restaurants and scenery, imagine having time off in some of the most desirable locations around the world, and having the freedom to explore on your own. Being a Backroads Leader allows for a lifestyle of flexibility and variety that many value above all other benefits of the job.

Additional Benefits Based on Hub of Employment

Leaders employed by Backroads Utah enjoy these benefits:

  • 401k plan: Leaders are eligible to contribute (up to 75% of their income) to a 401K plan after six months of employment, and Backroads will match 20% of an employee's contributions (up to 15% of pay). Employees become 20% vested in the employer match each year and are fully vested after five years of employment.
  • Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance: Backroads provides group medical, dental and vision insurance eligibility based on a leader's status. Seasonal leaders working 6 months or less (this status includes all first year leaders unless they are promoted to a different status on or around October 31st of their year of hire) are not eligible to join our group insurance plans. Leaders who fall into the extended seasonal status (season longer than 6 months) are eligible to join our group insurance plans on the first day of the month following their one year anniversary if they work 1560 hours or more in their first 12 months of employment (or 1560 or more hours during the previous calendar year in subsequent years of employment). Year-round leaders are eligible to join our group medical plans regardless of hours worked.
  • Flex Plan: Leaders are also eligible to join our "Flex Plan" after three months of employment. This plan allows employees to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualifying health and dependent daycare expenses.
  • Workers Compensation Coverage: In the unfortunate event of a work-related injury all Backroads Leaders are covered by workers compensation insurance which provides coverage for medical care, disability pay, and medically necessary transportation costs.

Leaders employed by our Canadian subsidiary enjoy these benefits:

  • RRSP plan: Backroads will provide 20% match on leader RRSP contributions made during the year, up to a maximum of 15% of a leaders' Backroads salary. Employees become 20% vested each year and are fully vested after five years of employment.
  • A health/dental insurance program: Backroads will reimburse up to $150 CAD per month for provincial medical and/or supplemental medical insurance beginning the first day of the month following the first day of training. Leaders are eligible to receive this reimbursement during months in which they work 10 days or more.
  • Holiday Pay: Canadian Leaders receive paid holidays in accordance with Canadian Labour Code.
  • Vacation Pay: Canadian Leaders receive vacation pay at the rate of 4% of pay for employees who have been with the company for one to five years and 6% of pay for employees who have been with the company for more than 5 years.
  • Workers Compensation Coverage: In the unfortunate event of a work-related injury all Canadian Backroads Leaders are covered by a combination of workers compensation insurance and employer paid travel medical plans (when working outside of Canada) which provides coverage for medical care, disability pay, and medically necessary transportation costs.

Leaders employed by our French subsidiary also enjoy these benefits:

  • Medical Benefits: "801 France" Leaders qualify for the basic French Social Security coverage since they are employed by a French company. Coverage is effective as soon as the Leader is under contract (first day of work).
    In case of a work injury, all medical expenses are 100% covered and Leaders receive a daily stipend equivalent to 60% of their daily pay during the 1st month of their leave, and up to 80% of their daily pay for longer absences.
    For non-work related medical situations, Leaders are covered up to 65% for their medical expenses, based on French rates.
  • Holiday Pay: Time worked on French holidays is paid time and a half. Time worked on May 1st (Labor Day) is paid double.
  • Vacation Pay: Vacation pay for European Leaders is paid out at the end of each contract. The amount of vacation pay is equal to 10% of the total gross pay Leaders make during the entire duration of their contract.
  • European Leaders also qualify for French government approved retirement and unemployment plans covered by Klesia and Pole Emploi.
  • Profit Sharing: Every year in May, 801 France distributes a part of its benefits amongst its employees. The amount is based on a complex formula established by the French government and, while varying from year to year, it can average between 200€ and 300€.