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01 Dec 2021 Hiring an Independent Caregiver? Here Are the Legalities You Must Know About

These days, we can do everything from our mobile, right from shopping and dating to hiring senior home care services online. When you can use a senior care online app to easily hire a senior caregiver, working with an agency and paying extra seem to be a less-attractive option.

But when you decide to hire an independent senior caregiver, it becomes important for you to know the difference between an independent caregiver and a household employee and what it means for you.

What is an independent caregiver?

Commonly known as a private caregiver, an independent caregiver is a caregiver professional who does not work for an agency. They work independently, find clients on their own, or maybe contacted by Care Seekers directly. Careseekers can often negotiate their work hours and payment directly.

According to the IRS, when a privately hired independent caregiver is paid more than $2,300 per year (in 2021), they are deemed as a household employee, except for situations where the family paying for services can show the caregivers true independence.

Most senior caregivers who are paid by careseekers or the caregiver agencies directly are considered household employees, and not independent contractors. People who falsely classify a caregiver as an independent contractor might be penalized by the IRS.

Hence, when you hire an independent caregiver, you are responsible for:

  • Employment taxes

  • Record keeping

  • Insurance Matters

This stands true for both:

  • Senior caregivers who people hire privately

  • Senior caregivers who people hire through a registry service that may facilitate payments but is not the employer.

But if the wages of the senior caregiver amount to less than $2,300 throughout 2021, neither you nor the caregiver is responsible for paying Medicare and Social Security taxes on these wages.


Important Note: The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has increased the domestic employee coverage threshold from $2,300 (in 2021) to $2,400 (in 2022).

Now, when you understand the responsibilities that come with hiring a private senior caregiver, let us discuss how you should hire one.

How to Choose/Hire an Independent Caregiver

Create a Job Description that Covers the Level of Care Needed

Before you contact or hire any private senior caregiver, you should enlist all the duties and activities that are needed for the elderly loved one, for instance, whether the elderly person just needs companionship or the elderly with Alzheimers who live alone need light housecleaning and assistance with running errands. Or, the elderly loved one needs extensive care for a few days.

Once you determine the level of care, write down a job description as detailed as possible, which should include:

  • All the responsibilities and duties of the caregiver

  • Working hours and days per week

  • Any special skills or training required

  • Experience

  • Personal qualities you prefer

Decide on the Pay Rate of the Senior Caregiver

When determining the pay rate for a senior caregiver, you need to keep in mind two things - federal law and local market pricing. Caregivers fall under the law of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage for caregivers is $7.25/hour in 2021 (which varies state by state). However, the hourly minimum wage is set to go up to $15 in the near future.

Find Senior Caregivers Online and Interview Them

The most easiest and convenient way to find a private caregiver is to install the Senior Care Online App, also known as Bloom. You can trust this app as it is implemented appropriately with combined rigorous background checks; skill set requirements; educational qualification; and various other critical factors. With this easy-to-use app, you can find and speak to senior caregivers in the comfort of your home over your phone. 

Once you narrow down a few senior caregivers, schedule an interview in person or online to make the final decision.

Ask all questions you have in your mind such as previous work experience, training, special skills, and availability. You can also ask them what they like about caring for seniors and how they would handle a difficult senior with mood. Once you think that they match your needs and requirements, you can further talk about policies they need to follow while working, such as no smoking in the house.

Conduct a Background Check

When you find the right professional for Elderly Care Online, a background check is essential to ensure the safety of the care recipient and the household. For that, you can confirm their prior employment, check references, verify license and certifications, check credit reports, see their DMV reports, and do a criminal background check.

To do all this work, you can also hire help from a law office, private investigator, or an online company. Remember that you will need to get a signed release from the potential caregiver to perform a background check.

Create a Contract for Independent Caregiver

After you have hired a private senior caregiver, you need to prepare a job contract, which should include the start date of employment, responsibilities and duties in detail, payment amount, vacation days, and anything that the job entails. The caregiver is required to sign two copies of the contract - one for the caregiver and the other for you, the employer.

Hiring independent or private elderly care online usually costs less than paying an agency. Besides, you get to choose the caregiver yourself, unlike an agency where the caregiver they send might not meet your expectations.

 So, in exchange for a few responsibilities, you can enjoy peace of mind by hiring a private senior caregiver and save money as well. Just make sure that when you hire Online Senior Home Care Services for your elderly loved one, you analyze your options well.