When most pet parents look for a pet sitter to take care of their animals, they will check the obvious things: insurance, bonding and references. Having these things in place is important, but there is something else that pet parents should ask a prospective pet sitting company that is even more important:
Are their pet sitters employees or independent contractors?
Hiring employees is more costly for a company. It means payroll taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, liability insurance, unemployment insurance and Social Security taxes. But it also means the company has more control over how, when and who performs a pet visit.
If the company you decide to hire uses independent contractors (ICs), there are a few things you should be aware of.
According to the IRS’s classification of ICs, employers are unable to exert any kind of control or tell ICs how to perform their visit for you. Employers are unable to correct an IC who doesn’t do their job as expected and they are not allowed to train the staff of ICs.
For the most part, in Virginia pet sitting companies with employees are required to provide their staff with workers’ compensation insurance. This can be costly; many pet sitting companies hire ICs to cut this cost.
ICs are supposed to have their own liability insurance but often they are unable to afford it. If the company you hire uses ICs, ask if they require their contractors to have their own liability insurance. Some liability policies used by pet sitting companies will also cover their independent contracts but there may be limitations. Find out.
Did you know that ICs can send anyone into your home to do the visit, i.e., a subcontractor? An IC could run into a scheduling problem and ask someone to substitute for them to visit your home and perform the visit. This may never happen, but the IC would be completely within their legal rights. Just because there is a company policy in place to prevent this from occurring, the IC does not have to adhere to the policy
… nor do ICs have to adhere to any company policy!