Considerations When Hiring A House Cleaner

In the U.S., residential cleaning has always been a large part of the underground economy, where taxes and required business costs (workers comp., liability insurance, unemployment taxes, payroll taxes and business registration fees ) are not paid.  Often times the income earned from cleaning homes is not reported and no income tax is paid on the earnings. Some unscrupulous independent house cleaners are also collecting government assistance (welfare) and not reporting their cleaning income to the welfare agency. 

A legit cleaning service will have expenses such as office overhead, insurance and taxes to pay which is why the cost of hiring a legit service will be higher than hiring a cleaning lady off Craigslist, Thumbtack or Hiring a cleaning lady from one of those online websites, or hiring a service who misclassifies its staff, may be cheaper in the short term but can have consequences down the road. Be an informed consumer and do your homework.  Remember…if the price seems so low it’s too good to be true…there is a reason why.  The risks involved are not worth it to save $20 tor $30!

“It’s all about your risk assessment. Pay cheaply now and cross your fingers really tight that nothing goes wrong or pay a little bit more for not only the best cleaning but the best personal and financial protection you can get!”

What separates Ocean State House Cleaning from the rest of the bunch? We may not be the cheapest home cleaning service in town, but we are the best…and the best value.  All our staff are employees (not independent contractors or independent cleaners like Handy or Takl).  We are fully insured (both workers comp and liability). We are also registered with the state of Rhode Island and the IRS as a business entity.  We take care of all employment, tax and insurance issues so that you don’t have to worry about it. An independent cleaning lady can’t say the same. 

Questions You Need To Ask When Hiring A House Cleaner

Does the cleaning service carry Workers Comp. insurance?

Are you sure? Have you checked with the RI Dept. of Labor to see if the company or individual carries workers comp. insurance on the workers they have working for them and if the policy is current? You can check for yourself by using the RI Dept. of Labor Workers Comp. Fraud Database available online by clicking here and then clicking the button that says “Employer’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance Coverage Verification”

Rhode Island law states that any employer with 1 or more employees must have a valid Workers Comp. insurance policy in place. If you hire an independent cleaning lady and she shows up to your home with workers in tow, that is a huge red flag. Those workers are her employees and if she doesn’t have the proper insurance in place, you may find yourself responsible if they get injured on your property.

Still not convinced insurance is important? We often hear potential clients tell us that their homes are safe and there is nothing a cleaner can injure themselves on in their home so our advice doesn’t apply to them. Consider the cases below. These are actual cases where a house cleaner was injured in someone’s home.

– Maid slips and falls in client’s driveway while walking into the home to clean. Awarded $25,000

– Maid slips and falls walking up client’s steps to get into house to clean. Awarded $32,000

– Maid slips and falls while cleaning inside of tub enclosure. Awarded $1,500

– Maid accidentally drops a bucket of water on wood stairs inside home, doesn’t clean it up well and then subsequently slips on the water and falls. Awarded $4,000

In all four cases the injury could have been prevented by the maid had she taken proper care. In all four cases the maid won their lawsuit anyway. As you can see, your home can be perfectly safe and accidents can still happen. All four of these cases are actual workers comp. cases that our workers comp. insurance paid out on our behalf. Protect yourself by only hiring a cleaning service with a valid workers comp. policy in place. You can never be too careful!

Does the company do background checks on new hires?

You should only hire a company who provides background checked employees to provide services within your home. Don’t be afraid to ask the company for proof.

Is the company legit? Or are they a “trunkslammer”?

If the answer is “no, they are not legit”, it is not recommended that you hire this company or individual. You may be putting yourself at risk! If the answer is “yes”, can they prove it by having the insurance company provide you with an insurance certificate? Including workerman’s comp?

A “trunkslammer” is any fly-by-night cleaning company or individual who cleans homes without carrying the proper insurances and who often gets paid “under the table”, fails to report their income to the IRS and pays any help they bring with them under-the-table wages to avoid employer-paid payroll taxes and state required insurances. Hiring a “trunkslammer” may be cheaper than hiring a legit service, but if you have problems with the quality of the cleaning, or if something in your home is damaged, you will often have no recourse. Besides, do you really want to get involved with someone so underhanded that they feel it’s okay to cheat the system by avoiding taxes and insurance? If they are willing to cheat the system like that, you should wonder what else they are willing to cheat at.

Does the cleaning service misclassify its staff?

Beware of cleaning services who present their staff as their employees but actually have them classified as independent contractors. Does the company use company cars? Provide company supplied cleaning chemicals and equipment? Does the company direct the work of the cleaner? If so chances are their staff are actually employees but they have misclassified them as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes and workers comp. insurance premiums. Payroll taxes and insurance can easily add 30-40% to a company’s labor expenses which is why it is so tempting for companies to try and skirt the rules by misclassifying staff. Always ASK if a company’s workers are employees of the company and then ask for proof of their workers comp. policy. Companies who do this are able to undercut the prices of legit services because they are not playing by the rules. There are a number of “cheap” cleaning companies right here in Rhode Island who cheat the system by doing this and are able to under-cut the rates of companies like ours who play by the rules. If the rates being charged by a company are lower than other companies, you can bet they aren’t properly classifying their staff. The best way to know for sure is to demand a current workers comp. insurance certificate directly from their insurance company. If they won’t give you the name of their insurance carrier….walk away and hire someone else.

Yes, hiring a company like Ocean State House Cleaning will cost a little more, but the benefits far outweigh the risks of hiring an independent cleaning lady or company who doesn’t play by the rules!

"I have been using Ocean State House Cleaning for more that 5 years and their teams always do a great job and pay attention to the smallest details. I have recommended Ocean State House Cleaning many times and will continue to recommend them. A special shout out for your help this past month as well. THANK YOU!"
Nancy D.
Blackstone, MA