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Do I incur labor taxes and costs when I hire home care?

By Peter DiMaria

Home Helpers Home Care Enfield Press Article

Hidden Home Care Costs?

It depends. If you hire a respected, trustworthy, honest in-home care agency, you will have no additional costs other than the care costs you agreed to in your contract. All labor costs such as overtime, worker’s compensation, liability, bonding, social security, unemployment pay and Medicare tax will already be included, at no additional charges.

However, if you hire a caregiver privately or through a registry, you may be paying much less than a reputable agency asks, but you are likely building up in hidden costs that will add up and may come back to haunt you in the future.

Hidden Home Care Costs

Here are four things to pay attention to when hiring home care agencies:

  • 1099 subcontractors versus screened, W2 employees

Some companies offering in-home care are called “Registries.” They list available caregivers and put them in touch with people who are looking for care, for a fee. After that, often you are on your own. Registries do not offer any guarantees about the caregivers they place in a client’s home.

They don’t deduct and do not pay Social Security, taxes from payroll, and do not issue tax return forms. They also do not pay unemployment, Medicare or any benefits. If you hire a Registry, you will be responsible for all documentation related to employment, including employee records, Social Security, immigration status and issuing a tax return.  And what’s worse, you may become responsible for their taxes if they do not file.

Most Registries offer caregiving services at low prices, but that is risky. The cost difference is what you might have to pay in the future, added to the headache of dealing with the IRS, paperwork, court sessions, lawyers’ fees and exposure.

  • Minimum wage and overtime for live-in caregivers

Since 2015, all home care workers and nursing aids are entitled to minimum wage and any person who works above 40 hours a week has the right to receive 50% more for each additional hour of work. The main problem in the home care industry arises in the case of live-in caregivers.

Until 2015, a family employing a care aid living in their home was exempt from paying overtime to the caregiver. This “caregiver exemption” made it more affordable for families to hire a live-in caregiver and for agencies to offer these services. However, with the end of the exemption since the beginning of 2015, it is now mandatory to pay overtime for the services executed above 40 weekly hours of work.

If the caregiver is hired privately or through a registry, the person who is hiring is responsible for observing that the pay reflects the hours worked with overtime. The employer is also required to keep employee time and pay records for each direct care worker they employ, including the days and hours they work.

Hiring a responsible agency will keep you at ease with any of these issues, since they will be accountable for all the records and wages incurred, including overtime. An agency will also make sure that their employees have the adequate hours of rest and that there is a caregiver rotation to make sure they get a well-deserved break, keeping the costs remain as low as possible for their customers. If a privately hired caregiver calls out, a replacement is not available.  With a good agency, there will be other compatible, trained caregivers ready to fill in.          

  • Workers Compensation and other insurance

The right home care agency must offer worker’s compensation insurance to their employees. When a caregiver gets hurt during his or her work hours, at a client’s home, they may be requested to file a Worker’s Compensation claim.

If the claim is legit, the employer is responsible for reimbursing the medical costs of the caregiver’s treatment. An accountable home care agency will be insured for those costs, being able to cover them without any difficulty.

However, if you hire a caregiver privately, through a registry or from an agency not insured, you may find responsible for covering those costs, from a few thousands of dollars to seven-digit figures.  Most homeowners’ insurance policies will not cover an injury of a paid worker that happens in their home.

Before hiring a home care agency, ask them if they are also bonded and insured for any other liability. That will keep you and your loved one’s finance’s safe.

  • Paperwork and caregiver management

Two issues that are often overlooked when someone is looking for home care are the related paperwork and the administration of caregivers. That is a huge part of what a home care agency does.

If you are hiring someone to take care of your loved one, it is because you need some free time, stress relief or a good helping hand to get things done. A responsible agency will train, manage and supervise the caregivers. They will call and visit the clients to know how the services are being executed and take measures to improve.

When someone hires caregivers privately, they may find themselves working as much taking care of the paperwork, supervising the care plan or looking for caregiver replacements when they have personal issues that keep them from going to work. An agency will give you peace of mind and make your life easy, while your loved one has the best care.

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