Is hiring a caretaker from an agency (expensive) really a lot better than trying to find someone locally who will work cheaper?

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My MIL needs to hire someone to help her to free me up but balks at the $20/hour charged by local agencies. We might find a local woman and run a police check on her but I'm reading about people suing employers and wiping them out. We can't afford a "slip and fall" lawsuit from a caregiver. How have other dealt with this issue?

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Sharon,
I have owned a business (not caregiving) so I know about business expenses. The days of making "big bucks" as a business owner are gone, especially when you have to pay for insurance. I know that WC ins is expensive.

The $10-$12/hr seems low, but surprisingly, in the past few years the wages have gone down. Example: In my area, receptionists used to get $14/hr, but now it's $11-$12/hr. So if you compare the caregiving jobs and other jobs, making $10/hr isn't so bad, especially since you can take a break, eat, talk in between working. Many regular jobs you do not get any lunches, breaks, and have to be on time. I am only referring to the low to mid level assisting companion jobs. If you have to do lifting, cleaning the house, cooking, changing urine bags then the wage should be higher.
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The agency has to pay overhead. That's stuff like worker's comp insurance, general liability insurance, staff meetings, uniforms/shirts, training, drug testing, background testing, office staff, phones/internet, marketing for clients and marketing for caregivers, taxes and much, much more. Unless you've been or are a business owner, people have no idea how much cost is involved. My husband charges $85.00 as a master plumber. Does he pocket that much? NO WAY!

You can always hire someone on your own. Sometimes it works out beautifully. Sometimes it doesn't. But an agency takes the hit for the times it doesn't work out beautifully. Just ask me about worker's comp claims. :( And the caregivers who really know how to work the system, they can run the insurance premiums up on a business, any business actually, and in the long run, who pays? Average Joe Blow. If you hire an individual to come into your home or your parent's home and they get hurt, what happens? It's your insurance. They do not cover themselves with work comp insurance. It's WAY too expensive. It's one of the largest liabilities in any business.

Sharon
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I am just making this as a comment. Just a comment, really not any opinion.

When bringing an agency in, and I know what that is like, as I have done both, you as the person working lost 1/2 of your wage to the employer (agency), which to me seems like quite a benefit to them. Honestly, what it does is chase away the good caregivers, because I know few people that want to do this day in day out for $10.00 - 12.00 per hour. That is pre tax dollars. Just a thought
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Another advantage to using an agency is that when your caregiver cannot make it, and it WILL happen at some point, the agency will send a replacement. We always did, even if it was myself (the owner). It's not always the best situation since the clients always get attached to their caregivers and don't like substitutes, but it's better than them being alone!

That won't happen if you have hired an individual. You need to think about what happens when that individual gets sick or has a broken down vehicle, or whatever.

Sharon
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1959....I would think that a 1099 would be a possibility: a qualified person is going to "do a job" so you are not there training him/her to do it. The time the caregiver shows up is at the "clients" discretion (it's sort of like the roofer needs to get the roof done in the second month of construction...). All that would fall under the independent contractor, 1099 rules. What am I missing?
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That is illegal in our state for a 1099, all caregivers are employees according to the IRS rulings. Which are federal rulings. If you do not own your day and control your day if someone else tells you what time to come in, and what time to go home, and when to feed lunch, then that is the truth, and for many people they do not know that, and I found out very early in my career, so it save a lot of errors in the long run.
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Kathy, do you issue a 1099 to your caregiver for tax purposes?
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Missy, give the CG a list and a set amount of CASH, for which she will give you a receipt. you have an idea of what you need will cost, and she is NOT going to supliment with her own money.. trust me, And if she does.. nope not gonna pay that! Tell her Mom can;t add to the list unless CG calls you for approval I am not a big fan of giving out cash, but it beats giving her your Credit card or bank card.
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I hired a neighbor, who came highly recommended. I pay her $15.00 an hour. She does whatever I ask her to do, clean, laundry, companion for Dad. She allows me 10 hours a week, freedom. She is a godsend. I consider her an independent contractor. Dad didn't want a lot of strangers in the house, so I went with the neighbor. If you need round the clock care, an agency is probably better, but just for respite, I'd find a mother of school age kids, who needs the money. Then i would work around her schedule
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That $20/hour covers liability insurance as well as payroll deductions, for which you would be liable unless the caregiver agreed to be paid "under the table." Still, you would run the risk of injury and suit if he/she were injured.

To me, that risk, especially higher in frail and sometims mobility compromised older folks, is not worth taking the chance.

The agency also can do background checks and screen candidates, which is easier for them than for you. In addition, they have a choice of workers of different capabilities and personalities who may be suitable, whereas you don't really know if one is until the work actually begins.
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