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.
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.
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.
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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