The Home Care Guide: Interviewing

How to interview a home care aide

The Inteview and Contract

Once you have found a candidate to interview, it's important to be clear about the terms of employment. Even if you are hiring someone who comes highly recommended by a trusted friend, it makes sense to use a contract so you both understand your arrangement. While many agencies provide their own contracts, if you are hiring an individual you will need to write your own. You can then use the points in the contract as interviewing questions. This will help you keep the interview organized and ensure that you won't skip any important information. A good contract will address:

  • Terms of payment: the amount, frequency, and the method for paying (each week, each month, cash or check, etc.).
  • Hours the employee will work. If these hours will vary every week, say so.
  • What the care provider is expected to do -- such as do laundry twice a week, which means change the sheets, fold the laundry and put it away; shop for you; remind you to take your medication each morning; and clean the house, specifying exactly what must be done in each room.
  • Provisions for sick or vacation days.
  • How much notice either party requests for rescheduling.
  • Terms for ending the contract.
  • Taxes and health benefits.

Let your candidate talk to you and to the person the candidate will care for, so you can both get to know them. Encourage them to tell you about past jobs they've liked and disliked. Find out about their caregiving style, and make sure their personality is compatible with the person who will be receiving care. Ask them what their strengths and weaknesses are.

References

Make sure each candidate provides you with three references, including names and phone numbers. If they don't have this information on hand, let them know they can call you with it later, but that you will not do any hiring without completing those reference calls. When you check the references, you can ask what were the strengths and weaknesses of the potential employee, did they trust the employee, was the employee dependable, how would they rate the quality of care given, and why they no longer employ that person.

What Homeowner's Insurance Should Cover

If you are hiring someone to work in your home on a regular basis, make sure your homeowner's insurance policy covers any accidents or injuries that might occur during work time.

Taxes

You don't have to worry about paying taxes for home care aides who work for an agency. If your care provider works for other people as well as you, and provides her own equipment, she is considered a self-employed contractor, and it is her responsibility to pay taxes. But if you hire someone who is not a self-employed contractor and pay more than $1,500 in wages during a calendar year, you are responsible for reporting that employee's income to the IRS and for withholding their Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes. Some states also require you to withhold tax. Check with the IRS and your state's department of revenue about the exact regulations, as they are frequently updated. If you don't follow the tax laws, you could be charged back taxes, plus a penalty.

Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9

You are also required to fill out an Employment Eligibility Verification form I-9, which verifies that your employee is legally entitled to work in the United States.

Communication

Once you have agreed on the terms of the contract, discuss how frequently you will meet to assess quality of care and employee satisfaction. Regular communication will help ensure that you are both comfortable with the arrangement. If your candidate is from an agency, or supervised by a registered nurse or social work professional, be sure you speak to the supervisor or manager so that you're clear about the terms under which you are hiring your senior caregiver.

Ronnie Friedland is an editor at Care.com. She has co-edited three books on parenting and interfaith family life.

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Comments (2)
Dayna W.
Actually, that is, in most cases, against the law. If you dictate the hours they are to work, how they perform their duties, and/or where they perform them, then they are considered a W-2 classified employee. 1099 employees, or consultants as they are known as, decide where they work and how they work. I hope this helps. I am a former college-educated and certified CPA.

Here's the information directly from the IRS website:

Question: How do you determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor?

Answer:

The determination can be complex and depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. The determination is based on whether the person for whom the services are performed has the right to control how the worker performs the services. It is not based merely on how the worker is paid, how often the worker is paid, or whether the work is part-time or full-time.

There are three basic categories of factors that are relevant to determining a worker's classification:
Behavioral control (whether there is a right to direct or control how the worker does the work);
Financial control (whether there is a right to direct or control the business part of the work); and
Relationship of the parties (how the business and worker perceive the relationship).

For more information on employer-employee relationships, refer to Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide, and Publication 15-A (PDF), Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide. Also, refer to Publication 1779 (PDF), Independent Contractor or Employee.

If you would like the IRS to determine whether services are performed as an employee or independent contractor, you may submit Form SS-8 (PDF), Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.

Generally, if you are an independent contractor you are considered self-employed, and should report your income (nonemployee compensation) on Schedule C (Form 1040) (PDF), Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship), or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), Net Profit From Business (Sole Proprietorship). Most self-employed individuals will need to pay self-employment tax (comprised of social security and Medicare taxes) if their income (net earnings from self-employment) is $400 or more. Use Schedule SE (Form 1040) (PDF), Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax due.

Generally, there is no tax withholding on income you receive as a self-employed individual as long as you provide your taxpayer identification number (TIN) to the payer. However, you may be subject to the requirement to make quarterly estimated tax payments. If you do not make timely estimated tax payments, you may be assessed a penalty for an underpayment of estimated tax. Unlike independent contractors, employees pay social security and Medicare taxes, as well as income tax, through payroll deductions (withholding).

Additional Information:
Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
Tax Topic 407, Business Income
Tax Topic 762, Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Taken from (cut and paste hyperlink): http://www.irs.gov/Help-&-Resources/Tools-&-FAQs/FAQs-for-Individuals/Frequently-Asked-Tax-Questions-&-Answers/Small-Business,-Self-Employed,-Other-Business/Form-1099-MISC-&-Independent-Contractors/Form-1099-MISC-&-Independent-Contractors-1

Also see (cut and paste hyperlink): http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1779.pdf

Dayna
Posted: January 09, 2014 at 12:52 PM
Shirley M.
Is it okay if i hire a home care provider and they pay their own taxes?
Posted: August 28, 2012 at 8:34 AM
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