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Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

By Jennifer Luna Friedrich

(Page 3 of 4)

What is the caregiver’s employment status?

If the caregiver is the employee of the agency, then the agency is responsible for bonds, taxes and insurance. Be wary of agencies that claim the caregivers are “independent contractors.” In most cases, caregivers do not qualify as “independent contractors” according to tax and labor laws. Their fees may seem low, but you could be deemed the employer and assume the employer’s responsibilities for taxes and insurance. Trying to save costs while violating tax and labor laws can put your family at great risk. Fines can be levied and back taxes plus penalties can accrue.

Work related injuries may not be covered by your home owner’s insurance. There are no surety bonds that would cover “independent” caregivers for theft, dishonesty or negligence. The same considerations hold true if you hire an individual “freelance caregiver.” Check with your legal and tax advisor if you choose to go this route.

What is the agency’s / caregiver’s track record? How long has the agency been in business?

Call the Better Business Bureau to see if the agency has any complaints on file. Obtain and verify references (especially for freelance caregivers).

How much skill and experience do the caregivers have? Does the agency have skills and experience requirements for their caregivers? What kind of training do they give to their caregivers?

Experience usually relates directly to skill. If your loved one has a special need, such as Alzheimer’s care, be sure the caregiver has experience and knowledge in this area.

What is the caregiver’s background? Does the agency perform a criminal background check on their caregivers? Are fingerprints taken? Can they legally work in this country? What is their driving history?

For freelance caregivers, you can do a background check yourself. The Department of Motor Vehicles can provide driving records and the County Courthouse can do criminal records checks. Resources can also be found in the phone book or on the Internet. Be wary of caregivers reluctant to provide background information

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