The Right Way to Hire Domestic Help

You've finally decided you can't stand the thought of cleaning your own bathroom one more time. Or maybe you feel that having in-home child care would be a better fit for your child. You may just need help with the yard or light household chores. How do you go about finding the right person for the job?

You've finally decided you can't stand the thought of cleaning your own bathroom one more time. Or maybe you feel that having in-home child care would be a better fit for your child. You may just need help with the yard or light household chores. How do you go about finding the right person for the job?

Get Started. The best way to find domestic help is to ask around among your friends and family. People who you know and trust are familiar with your lifestyle and may be able to make recommendations. You will probably feel more comfortable knowing your candidate has references and a background you trust.

Besides asking around, there are really three routes you can take in seeking domestic help. You can hire a company or self-employed individual who does work for other individuals in addition to the work done for you. You can work with an agency to hire an individual to work solely for you. Finally, you can hire an individual on your own.

Hire a Service Company. Before hiring any service company, check references to verify the service's reliability. You should always consult with your local Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. Make sure to ask the company what types of background checks they run. After all, their employees will be coming into your home, so it's important to feel secure. Finally, you want to make sure the company is insured just in case there is ever property damage.

Hire an Individual Through an Agency. If you plan to hire a domestic worker through an agency, first check the agency's background. Ask friends and family for recommendations, and check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Make sure you thoroughly understand the fees you will be charged and when you will have to pay those fees. Inquire about how the agency will help you if your selected candidate isn't a good fit for your family. Finally, ask how the agency screens its candidates. You want to make sure each candidate has been individually interviewed. Plus, make sure references were checked and that criminal histories and driving records have been investigated. Also, you'll want to know the candidate can legally work in the United States

Hire an Individual on Your Own. While hiring an individual on your own is a little more challenging than going through an agency, it can save you a considerable amount of money. You're also likely to end up with many of the same candidates the agency would have provided. You'll need to place an ad with all of your requirements in your local newspaper. Then you'll screen and interview your candidates.

Once you are ready to make an offer, you'll need to check references, criminal backgrounds, driving records, and if necessary, green card status. Your local police or sheriff's department can give you information on how to check your candidate's criminal background and driving record. There are also a number of companies geared to providing this very service.

Meet Your Legal Obligations. You won't really have any legal obligations if you hire a service company or an individual who is truly self-employed (who performs work for others in addition to you and who pays his or her own taxes and insurance). If you hire an individual to work for you as your employee, you'll have numerous legal obligations to consider. You may need to confirm that your employee is legally entitled to work in the United States. You will need to pay (and possibly withhold) all appropriate taxes. Also, don't forget to check with your homeowner's insurance. You may need to carry workers' compensation or other insurance to protect you should your employee be injured on the job.

Information about your legal obligations can be found at the Internal Revenue Service's website: www.irs.gov. Look for the Tax Topic "Employment Taxes for Household Employees" for detailed information. Publication 926 (Household Employer's Tax Guide) is also very helpful. Finally, your state's Department of Labor should be able to help you understand which state laws will apply.