About Our Service
Pet Tips & Tricks
Guidelines For Hiring A Pet Sitter
When hiring a Pet Sitter, or any other service that comes into your home, the most important thing is to be sure you are hiring a Business Entity and not an Individual. Simply put, Business Entities cannot sue you for injuries they claim happened on your property, while Individuals can. Business Entities are registered with the Secretary of State's Office; anyone not registered as either a sole proprietor, limited liability corporation, or S-corporation, is an individual. For homeowners this is crucial, you have assets to protect as well as pets.
There are 5 documents that you should be shown by everyone you interview. These are standard to all types of businesses, not just Pet Sitters. Be sure to check dates on all forms to be sure that none are expired, and call the issuer if you are not sure:
1. Registration with the Secretary of State. For all Pet Sitters and Independent Contractors. You need to be sure that any 1099 / Independent Contractors or Sub Contractors are registered Business Entities, or they are Misclassified Employees and can sue you as Individuals. A legal Subcontractor or Independent Contractor must be a registered Business Entity, just like the service you hire.
2. Industry-specific Liability Insurance. Issued in the business' name, not 3rd party from a website. Insurance only covers legitimate subcontractors (see #1).
3. Bonding Certificate. Issued in the business' name, not 3rd party from a website.
4. Workers Compensation Insurance. For all Employees. *WCI does not cover 1099 / ICs, be careful.
5. W2 for ALL Employees, BEWARE 1099s! 1099s are exclusively for Independent Contractors, the IRS does not allow employees to be paid that way. A W2 is how legitimate employees are paid; look at your paystub or statement. If they can't produce one that looks the same as the one you get, skip them, the "employee" can sue you for anything the claim happens in your home. W2 = covered, 1099 = risk.
Fair Treatment and Pay for Pet Sitter Employees
The employee does all the work. Imagine two people work together- one sits in a chair, answers the phone and fills in a schedule book. The other uses thier own car to actually go do the physical work. Who should work for whom? This is the upside-down situation in most Pet Sitting businesses.
Employees are entitled to:
Many businesses try the tired old "Independent Contractor / Sub Contractor / 1099" scam to avoid giving employees what they're entitled to...
- Fair pay commensurate with share of work. What you generate per hour should not be significantly higher than what you earn.
- Either: Mileage Compensation of $.53 per mile driven from the time they leave home until they return home if they are using their own car. This needs to be documented daily as the business will deduct this amount from thier taxes (hopefully after compensating the employee!).
- Or: Company Car with insurance / fuel allowance. Either way the business pays for vehicle costs associated with job duties.
- Roadside Assistance for whatever vehicle is used. Damages incurred during performance of duties are work-related expenses.
- Allowance for shoes, bags, rain gear, hats, sun glasses, sun block, etc... : anything else that contributes to performance of duties should be paid by the employer.
- Health Insurance.
- Paid Vacation and Sick leave w/o losing job.
- Maternity Leave w/o losing job.
- A safe working environment.
- Reasonable, consistent hours, ie. a job you can rely on week to week.
- All businesses in Colorado are required to have Workers Compensation Insurance for anyone who doesn't own atleast 10% of the business. For those people that do own 10%, they must file an exemption HERE not to be required to have this insurance. These requirements are strict, they are designed to protect employees and customers should an emergency arise. Buying WCI is the right thing to do, but it is prohibitively expensive.
Subcontractors, Independent Contractors, 1099ers, Team, Crew, Staff, Buddies, Henchmen... if calling employees anything besides employees could get you out of paying taxes, Walmart would have nothing but Subcontractors. The IRS defines Subcontractors for you. Independent Contractor Agreements, Non-Compete Agreements, Exclusive Work Contracts and the like are "legal toilet paper" in Colorado; it's a right to work state, and you can't write a contract that supercedes the law. Misclassifying employees is tax evasion, at both the state and federal level, and there are no mulligans, just fines and prison. If you're dumb enough to do it, here's what you're risking:
HERE are Colorado's penalties for "Independent Contractors". $5000.00 for the first misclassified employee, $25,000.00 (not a misprint) for each additional. That's just the fine! You'll also owe back taxes, fees & interest.
HERE are the IRS / Federal penalties for "Independent Contractors". Orange can be your new black, it's that serious. They know all about this scam, it's the most common way people try to evade taxes and insurance.
Anyone can call 303-318-8700 and report any business anonymously, or HERE online 24/7. There are quite a few Pet Sitters in Denver that anyone could put out of business with a phone call, just on a whim. Anyone- you, their illegal employees, scorned lovers, wronged neighbors, or just some random bored guy. Crazy but true.
Here's how the pet sitter's illegal employee / subcontractor / independent contractor "owns" them; anytime they choose to, they can legally get a 50% raise, stop working but still get paid, and perma-screw the pet sitter all in one shot:
A Misclassified Employee is still entitled to Workers Compensation, but the pet sitter didn't get the insurance. Just like driving a car, not getting insurance doesn't exempt you from liability, it makes it worse. The Misclassified Employee makes up an injury that never happened, calls 303-318-8700, or goes to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's website and files a claim. Liability for the pet sitter who misclassified the Employee goes up to 150%! But they have no legal assistance from CDLE because they didn't buy the insurance. CDLE is not going to investigate the illegal claim, the pet sitter is on their own. And totally screwed.
Even worse- the employee can get a lawyer and say they work for you, the homeowner, and not the service that also claims they are "Independent". Check your Homeowner's Insurance for the Worker's Compensation clause. Sit down first. Then, while you're still sitting, google "Workers Compensation Lawyer Denver" and see how many sharks are waiting for you. And all you wanted was to have your pet cared for...
Not every business is a million dollar one. Not every business can legally support employees. Pet Sitting is simple, it's about helping out and having fun. If you do it legally, it's not a gold mine. Beware greedy hands. The rewards of this business come in forms other than affluence.
About Our Service
Pet Tips & Tricks
COMMON PITFALLS AND THINGS TO BE AWARE OF:
Website Memberships- any .com like care, rovers, petsit, whatever, are legally meaningless, they're just multi-level marketing plans. They offer third party out of state insurance and make a lot of promises, but the Federal government and the State of Colorado have laws in place for businesses, beginning with registration, that must be followed. No website membership superceedes the need for Secretary of State Registration, Liability Insurance and Bonding, and Workers Compensation or a filed exemption with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Those items can be verified using the links above, without them you are hiring an individual with all of the associated risks. Be careful, cheap services can become very expensive. Read the terms of service, they're just websites, not real services. They're never even met the people they are recommending for your pets and home, it's literally anyone who signs up for the app: https://www.rover.com/tos/ https://wagwalking.com/terms
Secondary Insurance- is actually worse than nothing. Most website sitters use this, the websites provide it, but there is a nasty catch; first, if anything goes wrong, before seeking reimbursement from the website sitter, you agree to seek reimbursement from a primary insurance provider, such as your home, health, or pet insurance.
Online Reviews are often fake- you can buy these. We get emails soliciting that all the time. Many small marketing companies maintain dozens of fake identities on the various sites that they use to get "results" for thier customers. The first thing any new business does is have their friends and family post reviews for them on Google, Yelp, Yahoo and other sites like that. Some make up fake ones themselves, all you need is an email address. It's dishonest, but probably the most common practice in small business. Yes, we have some really nice ones, and appreciate them, but we would advise taking them all with a grain of salt.
If your pet is to be transported- there should be an additional rider on the service's insurance policy to specifically cover transportation of animals. Make sure that the vehicle is equipped to carry your pets safely in approved carriers that are securely fastened to the vehicle, and that transportation time is not counted into service time unless specified as such in the contract.
Grooming- of any sort also requires specific insurance, or a grooming rider on a general policy.
Vehicle Graphics or Magnets- on a Pet Sitter's vehicle are a bad idea- would you pay someone to put a "No one is home" sign on your house while you're gone? Don't hire a service that drives around with one of these on their vehicle, it's an ad for trouble.
Family Owned & Operated Since 1999