What if we told you that most pet sitting and dog walking companies are breaking the law? (Even some day care/boarding facilities)
Unfortunately, many are. Most hire independent contractors (ICs) rather than employees to complete pet care and here’s why this may be illegal:
- ICs are supposed to be independent companies hired to complete a task. Nearly all the time, they are actually individuals working a job for the company (ie, employees).
- ICs are NOT supposed to go through ANY training. This means the company hiring them cannot have a structured training program. ICs are supposed to be completely independent. Any control over the IC would make them an employee in the eyes of the government.
- ICs set their OWN schedule. If you hire a pet sitting company that uses ICs, they cannot tell them when to show up, how long to stay and what to do. Again, if they have any control over their work, they are considered employees.
- ICs should carry their own license and insurance. If anything happens, even if the company you hired has insurance, that insurance carrier may not cover any injuries or damages since they are not employees.
Why would a pet care company have IC’s to begin with?
Largely, for a couple simple reasons. First, it’s easier. Hiring an employee requires a lot of paperwork, registering with the government, calculating and filing taxes, etc. Second, it’s cheaper. ICs are responsible for filing AND paying their own taxes. The company simply cuts a check for the work based on their agreement (typically 50-60% of the charge) and that is the end of the deal. The ICs, unfortunately, are then left with a bigger tax bill at the end of the year as a result since pay the full self-employment tax (15.3%). Employers pay half of that for their employees, ICs have to foot the whole bill.
Some pet care companies even pay at BELOW minimum wage for hours worked when they stay overnight with dogs. Here’s a typical example, you hire a pet company to come stay with your pet(s) overnight and they charge you $100 for 12 hours. Currently, minimum wage is $8.65/hr in FL (soon to be $10/hr in September), so the person that actually stays should be paid around $104 to follow the minimum wage laws (Note: An owner of the company could certainly pay themselves less if working alone). Typically, the IC is paid at a 50-60% rate, so they would get $50-60, thus being paid $5/hr at most, well below minimum wage. Even if they are sleeping, they are supposed to be paid for hours worked for 12 hours.
Here at WestFetch, all of our workers are employees. We cover them with our license, bonding and insurance and file all proper paperwork with the government. We can also train them on the proper duties of pet care and expect them to be on schedule at all times. Important stuff if you ask us!!
Next time you are interviewing a pet care company. Ask if their workers are ICs or employees. You deserve to know what you are hiring and there is a BIG difference!