How to Get Domestic Help

Getting domestic help, whether it is for cleaning, cooking, housekeeping, gardening or caregiving, means that you will be an employer. As such, you need to know what your responsibilities and obligations are before you begin the hiring process.


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    Understand the difference between an independent contractor and an employee. And independent contractor, such as an electrician, controls their work; they decide what to do and how to do it. People hired to do domestic work don’t usually make the decisions, you do. If you decide how the work is to be done and where it is to be done, then you are hiring an employee, not an independent contractor. Review the IRS Publication 926 concerning your tax obligations regarding hired help. [1]You will probably be responsible for the following federal and state taxes:
    • Social Security taxes
    • Medicare taxes
    • Federal income taxes
    • Unemployment taxes
    • Disability insurance taxes
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    Advertise for help in reputable publications. Or, you might consider using an agency to help you locate and hire domestics. Credible agencies perform background checks, drug testing and other methods to thoroughly vet candidates. Look for an agency that bonds and insures their clients.
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    Don’t take shortcuts during the hiring process. You really must thoroughly vet any person you plan to hire for domestic help. Keep in mind that the person you hire will have unlimited, and usually unsupervised, access to your home and everything in it. If you are hiring domestic help to care for your children or your elderly parent, it is even more critical that you do everything possible to choose someone you can trust and rely upon:
    • Conduct an in-person interview. A telephone interview won’t suffice. During a live interview, you can observe the person’s mannerisms, body language and demeanor. It’s true that some people are masters of deception, but in most cases, you can trust your gut reaction or intuition. If something feels “off” to you, pay attention. If the interview goes well, and the person is being interviewed as a caregiver, set up a second interview for him or her to meet the children or adults they will be caring for.
    • Ask for a resume. If possible, get the resume ahead of time so that you can review it at length and check out the validity of the applicant’s previous work experience.
    • Ask for personal and professional references. But don’t stop there; call every reference and chat with them. Ask open-ended questions and try to get the reference to volunteer additional information about the prospective employee.
    • Conduct a background check. A background check will reveal any legal problems or criminal history. You can hire someone to do the background check, or you can do it yourself using trusted websites that specialize in background checks. There are fees involved, but they are reasonable and well worth the money for your peace of mind. Above all, you must verify the prospective employee’s legal status. Hiring an illegal, undocumented worker is against the law, and the onus is on you to verify the applicant’s legal status.


  • An in-person interview will also tell you at a glance if the person will be physically capable of performing the duties you are hiring him or her to do.
  • If you want the employee to wear a uniform, or special outfit, talk to him or her before.


  • If you hire someone who accidentally damages your property, you will need to recover the cost of repairs. If your domestic help accidentally damages your neighbor’s property, you could end up with a negligence lawsuit on your hands. Make sure you have insurance coverage to meet every contingency. If your homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t have adequate medical and liability coverage, increase the limits before you hire domestic help.

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Categories: Domestic Assistance