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Consider This Before Hiring a Caregiver

When searching for a caregiver, it is tempting to go with a friend’s recommendation or that retired RN whose qualifications and hourly rate are hard to beat. These may be perfectly acceptable options for you and your loved one, but it is important to perform some due diligence before hiring a private individual to be your caregiver. It can be difficult to even know what questions to ask, but the following risks should be considered before making a final decision.

If you hire a private individual, there could be tax liabilities for you or your loved one because you become an employer in the eyes of the government. Even when the caregiver acts as an Independent Contractor, the IRS can come to you for any outstanding Federal taxes not paid by the caregiver. It is your responsibility to determine whether the person you are hiring is acting as an employee or Independent Contractor and to know the tax implications of both scenarios.

An equally important question to ask is whether or not the private individual has adequate insurance coverage, in particular workers’ compensation. According to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), home health care workers face unique, and potentially serious and life-threatening, risks on the job. If you hire a private individual without adequate insurance, you could be held responsible for their medical expenses and disability payments should they be injured while working for you. The potential liability doesn’t end there—if the caregiver were to cause an accident that injured other family members or people in the home, the employer (in this case you) could be responsible for all related compensation.

Typically home care agencies, unlike registries and individuals, are licensed and insured. They are the employers and therefore the tax and legal risks mentioned above are the responsibility of the agency. Even when working with an agency, it is important to ask specifically whether or not they have workers’ compensation because being licensed and insured does not always include workers’ comp.

One of the many benefits of working with a company like Home Care Plus is that we are licensed and insured (including workers’ comp) and all of our caregivers are hired by and directly managed by the owners. You have enough to worry about when looking for a caregiver, so why add the additional burden of potential tax and legal liabilities to that list when you can work with a trusted company instead?