We’ve come across this many times while meeting with a prospective client. The idea that their homeowners insurance will protect them if there is an accident.
Bad news is, it probably won’t. And, depending on where you live, you may be liable for more than just the maid’s medical expenses.
Some states (check with your state for details) define you as the employer and if workers compensation insurance hasn’t been paid, you’ll get a bill and hefty fine. Then there are those employment taxes that may not have been paid out of what you pay your cleaner.
You may find yourself at even further risk if the cleaner in your home is unscrupulous and knows that you are not aware of the law. You are at a dis-advantage!
But, why are you at risk? You found your cleaner in the yellow pages. They seemed like a reputable service. Isn’t this their responsibility?
Not by definition in many states (check your state for details). Many “independent” maids or cleaning contractors are considered your employee based on how much control you have over what they do. If an independent cleaner works in your home using your equipment and following your directions, that cleaner may be determined your employee. It may not matter where you found them or how reputable they seemed.
Don’t pull out the rubber gloves to do your own cleaning just yet! There are things you can do to protect yourself. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
First, check with your insurance company to see what is and is not covered.
Second, do some research on the cleaning contractor you are about to hire. There are several reporting agencies that you can look to – BBB, Angie’s List, et al. Ask the contractor directly if they pay Workers Compensation and that they add you as an insurance holder. (This means the insurance company will send you and update if the policy status changes – so you’ll know if a policy has been canceled the day after you hire them – yes, it does happen.) Even a solo worker should have their business incorporated and be able to show you that they pay worker’s compensation. Ask!
Third, ask if they pay employment taxes. And, get that in writing. Most sound, established cleaning services will have this covered in their service agreement or on their website. You may see wording like, “we employee our workers” or “we pay all employment taxes”. You get the drift.
If your questions seem to catch the cleaning contractor off-guard, then perk up and pay attention. Get a couple more estimates and do your homework!
And remember, if the price is “too good to be true”, it most likely isn’t true or good for you. If you hire a private cleaner for $10-12 per hour, chances are high that the proper taxes may not be paid and the proper insurances are not carried. These things cost reputable companies and that is why they charge more.