Although the Holiday Season is usually filled with excitement and celebrations, for some in their “golden” years, this can be one of the toughest times of the year. The stress that comes with taking part in these special celebrations can be overwhelming for some. Many people, regardless of age, can experience feelings of sadness, disappointment and depression this time of year which is often referred to as the “Holiday Blues”. This can be due to the extra stress that results when preparing for all of the fun holiday festivities, while still juggling all of the day to day of our busy lives.
Some seniors experience the “Holiday Blues” more intensely, while others are not affected at all ... Life experience brings many changes with it, and our senior family members often reach a point in their lives when it becomes more difficult to adapt to change. During the Holidays, in particular, some reminisce about better times and the absence of their loved ones. Some of their spouses or closest friends might even have already passed, and their grown up children have busy lives of their own now …
There are many factors that can contribute to our seniors being more sensitive to the pressures that the holidays bring with them and therefore more prone to experience a case of the "holiday blues".
Some signs to watch for are:
- Failing Health
- Loss of a loved one
- Comparison between their lives “then” and “now”
- Limited communication with family and friends
How can we help our seniors??
- Communication today is easier than ever! Give them a call, send them a card, send a vase of flowers, anything that transmits the message that you care and you are thinking about them. You might not have been in contact for a while due to hectic schedules or a past history, but the Holiday season is the perfect opportunity to re-connect with the seniors in your life.
- Go to visit them and bring your family along - Have you ever seen the happiness of a senior when he is around a grandchild? This holiday season keep that in mind. There is no better gift than the gift of good company and building memories that will last a lifetime.
- Help your senior engage with their community – if their health allows them, there are always great senior-centered community activities. Get them involved!
- If you think your senior is experiencing the “Holiday Blues”, make sure he is also checked for Depression. Counseling or support groups can also be beneficial.
Ensure your senior safety. We should always remember our seniors were there for us once, be there for your senior this holiday season, make sure they know you are here for them today!
Vanessa Vidal, FPC
HomeWork Solutions, Inc.
Timeless holiday songs are once again playing on the radio, that festive spirit can be felt in the air and year end celebratory planning can be found everywhere … This is one of my favorite seasons of all. It is that special time of year when we take the time to appreciate the wonderful people in our lives, and take a moment to show our appreciation to those special people that make our everyday lives better. We all start to feel that holiday spirit this time of year!
Many families incorporate this spirit into their household employment relationships as well. If you have a nanny, senior caregiver or other household employee, now is the time to consider how you might demonstrate your appreciation to your employee ...
- Am I required to give my nanny a holiday bonus? The simple answer is no, you are not required to give your employee a bonus; but it will certainly be greatly appreciated. Bonuses are a gift to employees as recognition of a job well done, and although they are not required, employees love to receive this recognition.
- What kind of bonus should I give? There are not hard and fast rules – whether to provide a bonus or not, as well as the amount is a very personal decision. Many clients base their bonus amounts on the time the employee has been working with them. Longer term caregivers – more than a year on the job – typically receive cash bonuses equivalent to one or two weeks of wages. For caregivers with less than a year of service, the calculus is often a cash bonus equivalent to one day of pay per month of service, generally no more than one week of wages in total. A gift card is also a great option, as they can be purchased for your employee’s favorite store, and it adds a personal touch.
Additional paid time off in lieu of a monetary bonus is one way to show appreciation without increasing the household payroll expense. Many families have time off from work around the holidays, and often gift their nanny with some extra paid time off. Your nanny will appreciate advance notice if you plan to do this so she can make plans for her bonus time off.
There are many ways to show your appreciation, ask your child, and get him/her involved. I am sure you will be surprised with the creativity of your little one- PLUS, you are teaching your child to show appreciation and be thankful!
- Remember – In the eyes of the IRS, there is no gift between employer and employee. Any kind of bonus you choose to give your employee must be reported for tax purposes and reflected on your employees W-2.
- The gift of recognition –Maybe a monetary gift to your household employee isn’t in your plans this holiday season. A thoughtful card or extra words of thanks are great gifts as well. Recognition matters, and the holiday season and start of a new year are the perfect opportunities for you to share your appreciation!
Happy Holidays … from the HomeWork Solutions' Family to yours!!
: Nanny Holiday & Year End Bonus Article Holiday Bonus FAQ
Vanessa Vidal, FPC
HomeWork Solutions, Inc.
Did you know that when you employ a nanny, housekeeper or other household employee who does not reside in your household, you must comply with FLSA overtime regulations?
By law you need to pay overtime as stated, “the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires overtime pay at a rate of not less than one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek”*
So, why does this matter to a household employer like me?
In some cases, when overtime is not correctly paid, employees will file a complaint with the Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor. This is most common when the employment arrangement ends unexpectedly or on bad terms. Employers can be required to pay back wages and they can even become personally liable for violating FLSA!
An easy way to make sure you are paying the right rate is to use our Hourly Paycheck Calculator:
Once you choose “Hourly” and fill in your employee’s hours worked and hourly rate, the calculator does the hard work for you:
Now, there’s no need to worry about complying with FLSA and you can easily write your employee’s paycheck with confidence that you are in compliance!
For more expert information, check out this link:
*Some states like California have more specific rules, so contact us if you have any questions about being in compliance in your state.
HomeWork Solutions, Inc.
HomeWork Solutions is proud to announce the publication of the ABC Nanny Guide. Our own Kathleen Webb shares tips, tricks and lessons learned from 25 years of working in the nanny industry, both personally and professionally.
FREE Amazon Download
November 27 - December 1!
When a family sets out to find trustworthy and reliable in-home childcare, emotions run high and doubts loom large. This comprehensive guide charts the path from identifying childcare needs, sourcing qualified candidates, performing requisite background checks and setting budget and salary expectations, and moves through the unexpected challenges families seldom anticipate. The author shares tools and processes she has developed over 20 years as an owner/operator of one of the largest US nanny payroll companies, including sample compensation packages, work agreements, performance evaluations and tips for managing the complex interpersonal relationships many families encounter as first time domestic employers.
So if you are considering a nanny but you don't know what you need or where to start, the ABC Nanny Guide is written for you! Kathy walks you through the necessary steps of finding a responsible, reliable caregiver to trust with your children. Topics include:
- Recruiting qualified candidates (Where do I look?)
- Conducting a thorough interview (What do I ask?)
- Vetting the nanny (How do I know my kids will be safe?)
- Navigating the complicated Employer/Employee relationship when children are involved (How do I address performance concerns?) And,
- Understanding your new role as a household employer (How do I manage payroll? When do I give raises or bonuses - and how much? What are my tax reporting obligations?)
Don't Delay! Download your free copy and share this post with your friends and family who may be facing the same childcare challenges.
This year, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary. We are grateful to all of you – the clients who have placed their trust in HomeWork Solutions over the last two decades, our referral agency partners and colleagues who confidently refer our services to their clients, and we are of course grateful to our wonderful staff, the team that provides service with a smile! This milestone anniversary achievement belongs to all of us, as it is only in working together and constantly striving to not just meet but to exceed the expectations of our clients and partners that we are all successful.
We are thankful for our Referral Agency Partners. We value our ongoing relationships with you and each of your clients. Our best compliment is to receive your referrals, and we guarantee that they will continue to receive the outstanding client care and responsiveness they receive from you as well.
Our company’s dedication to providing superior service wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding job of our wonderful staff - we are thankful for each and every one of you. Your unique personality and commitment to team work has made us the strong company that we are. Our continued growth and excellence is the result of your outstanding client care, expertise and communication skills – Way to go team HWS!
As an industry leader, we have the pleasure of interacting with agencies, accountants, families, nannies and all kinds of household workers. We are thankful for the valuable feedback we receive from you – we are delighted to be here for you.
The importance of the ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday is to ‘give thanks’, to take a moment to value what you have and to be thankful for it. We sometimes focus too much on what we are missing and forget what we have. Thanksgiving is not only an American celebration, it is an opportunity to value the people around you, the small details that are so important in all of our lives and that sometimes we don’t see. No matter what culture, religious background or other traditions you uphold, we hope each and every one of you enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving. Get into the mood of celebration and be thankful!!
If you are a parent or guardian, don’t miss this opportunity to teach your children the real meaning of this holiday. Teach your children to appreciate the little details that make us who we are.
Vanessa Vidal, FPC
HomeWork Solutions, Inc.
After I had my first child and as my maternity leave days were coming to an end, I realized that I would need to hire a nanny to help me take care of my newborn. I interviewed a few candidates and fell in love with Sarah; she seemed to really, genuinely care about my baby. I felt confident with her; she was truly the best fit for my family. Sarah was offered $500 a week. She accepted my offer and was hired right away!
We love our nanny; she is a blessing to our family. She is such a great help with encouraging my son’s development and individual growth, and she has helped us to grow as parents as well. Every Friday, I pay Sarah $500 in take home pay, we were so lucky she took our offer. I certainly didn’t know at the time that I made the offer what $500 a week really meant, and neither did Sarah.
After sharing my wonderful nanny experience with a colleague at work, she asked me how I was handling the Nanny Taxes. I said, “What? …” and here is where the real story begins. My colleague, who has household help, recommended that I call the company she uses – HomeWork Solutions.
I called them the next day and one of their knowledgeable representatives explained that the moment I hired Sarah, I became a Household Employer, with legal obligations and tax responsibilities. The estimate of taxes for a household employer is 10-12% above the nanny’s gross salary. Not only that; but when I offered Sarah the weekly take-home rate of $500, I was also assuming her share of Social Security and Medicare Taxes (7.65%) and may have agreed to pay her income taxes as well. Now I have to go back to the two wonderful years Sarah has been working for us and pay all back taxes + penalties + interest - I didn’t expect that!
Thankfully, HomeWork Solutions had handled these situations before. They opened my tax accounts and helped me file all my back taxes. They even helped me with figuring out how to explain all of this to Sarah! Now I am up to date with my nanny taxes. I no longer wake up in the middle of the night dreaming that the IRS is after me. The “Nanny Taxes” apply to ALL kinds of household employees and there is no “I didn’t know” excuse for the IRS to avoid the household employment tax obligations!
Don’t make the same mistake I did – Request your FREE telephone consultation with HomeWork Solutions today!
Video - Nanny Net Wage Agreement
This employer’s experience is based from similar experiences we hear from our clients every day, so while Sarah and her employer are fictional, we hope you find their story helpful!
Vanessa Vidal, FPC
HomeWork Solutions Inc.
November is "Open Season" for benefits scrutiny and updates for many families with employer sponsored benefits packages. While the media continues to focus on the changes to the health insurance landscape, many families overlook an important benefit in their menu of choices.
DEPENDENT CARE ACCOUNT
The tax code allows families with eligible dependents to shelter up to $5000 per year from income taxes when they deposit this money into an employer-sponsored FSA Dependent Care Account. This money may then be used, tax free, to pay the care expenses of eligible dependents. The payroll taxes associated with the care expense also qualifies under an FSA Dependent Care Account.
How Much Can You Save?
Most household employers's highest marginal Federal income tax rate is between 28 and 35%. Add on state and local income taxes, and the $5000 you fund to your FSA Dependent Care Account can save you $2000 a year or more in income taxes - often enough to completely fund your employer share of the "nanny taxes."
Who is an eligible dependent?
- Your qualifying child - this includes step-children, foster children, and grandchildren who reside with you full time and for whom you provide more than 50% of this person's support for the calendar year.
- Your qualifying parent - or other adult - who resides with you full time and for whom you provide more than 50% of this person's support for the calendar year.
Note that your eligible dependent cannot be claimed as an eligible dependent on anyone else's tax return, and must be a legal resident of the U.S.
What are covered expenses?
Nanny care or senior care expenses you incur, as well as the associated payroll taxes, are eligible expenses so long at the expense was incurred while you work or to enable you to work. To claim the expense reimbursement under a FSA Dependent Care Account you must have the tax id number of the caregiver.
Don't Delay - "Open Season" usually will close at the end of November!
You generally can only enroll in a FSA Dependent Care Account arrangment during your benefits plan's Open Season or within 30 days of a 'qualifying event' such as the birth or adoption of a child.
IRS: Child and Dependent Care Expenses
Congress tackled the "Nanny Taxes" in 1995 to streamline reporting on the family's personal income tax returns* and to establish a threshold level of wages that a family has to pay before triggering 'nanny tax' obligations.
The nanny tax threshold was set at $1000 and a mechanism was put in place to adjust this amount going forward in $100 increments to account for inflation.
Families with household workers must pay the nanny taxes when wages paid to a household worker such as a nanny, housekeeper or senior caregiver are $1800 or more in the calendar year. This threshold will change to $1900 in 2014 according to an IRS announcement earlier this month.
* It is important to note that 'simplifying' the nanny taxes onto a family's personal income tax return was in fact a Trojan horse.
Taxpayers submit their personal income tax returns under penalties of perjury. By moving the nanny taxes to the personal tax return, Congress in fact stepped up the potential penalties a family faces if they fail to report and pay the nanny taxes AND made the nanny tax fair game in personal income tax audits.
The end of year is fast approaching. If you have a household worker and have not yet taken steps to begin paying your state and federal nanny taxes, now might be an excellent time to look into outsourcing. Now through November 30, we are offering special discounts to new clients. Don't delay, the offer will absolutely end November 30. Avoid the end of year rush and madness - contact HomeWork Solutions and knock the nanny taxes off your to do list!
Every Human Resources Department knows the importance of having an Annual Performance Review for all employees. A performance review can be done at any time of the year, and preferably is completed at least once every year.
Why is this important for a household employer?
A performance review with your nanny or household employee gives you a chance to review how your employee performs his or her job. This is a great opportunity to praise your employee for the tasks she excels at and provide constructive feedback for areas that still need improvement.
Families who employ a household worker in their homes are encouraged to act as the Human Resources Department and perform an annual review for each of their household employees.
How do you do this?
Work Agreement – When hiring your employee, the best practice is to go over a written Work Agreement. This agreement reflects all aspects of the job expected by the employer and agreed to by the employee. Once a year, you can review this agreement to make sure all areas of the job are being performed as desired. This agreement can be revised and edited at any time to adapt to changing job expectations, and having it in writing helps to assure the agreement of both parties involved.
W-4 Form – Employees fill out a W-4 Form at the beginning of employment. Sometimes personal situations change and a new W-4 can be completed to document changes in withholding statuses if:
- Your employee gets married
- Has their own child
- Or would just like some extra money to be withheld from each paycheck.
Filing Statuses and Withholding Allowances can be updated or changed at any time during the year. It is recommended that the employee review her W-4 form at the beginning of every tax year to insure accuracy.
Job Description – Employee’s duties are subject to change, especially in household employment. Children’s needs change all the time, and their changing activities could considerably change the employee’s duties. For example, changing diapers might not be necessary after two years on the job!
Things to review:
- Improvements the employee has made since the last performance review
- How is the employee providing valuable impact in your child’s development
- Merit and cost of living
HomeWork Solutions has prepared these helpful tools for you and your employee to develop a performance review that works for you:
Vanessa Vidal, FPC
HomeWork Solutions, Inc.
For many, the time and money associated with caring for aging relatives are nothing short of overwhelming. Financing long term care is a particular source of anxiety and stress. If you have determined that at-home care is the avenue that best suits your family, then you have probably already worried about financing this long term care plan.
Fortunately, the burden of cost can be significantly shifted if your senior has an existing life insurance policy. According to insurance expert and former insurance industry lobbyist Chris Orestis, your policy can be used to pay for senior care including home care, assisted-living, nursing home expenses and even funeral arrangements. “Seniors can legally sell their policy for between 30 and 60 percent of its death benefit value. The money can be put into an irrevocable fund designated specifically for their care,” says Orestis.
Life Care Funding is one company that can help you determine whether your policy can be converted to finance at-home care. "It is important for seniors to know that if they own a life insurance policy, they can convert the policy into a Long Term Care Benefit Plan to pay for any form of senior care. This is an option that most seniors don't know about. In order for them to make an informed decision about a life insurance asset that they own and have already paid for over years of premium payments, they must know about this important funding option," says Don Poole, CEO of Life Care Funding.
In a recent article in The Gilmer Mirror, Orestis offers up more tips on paying for senior care:
• Don’t rely (too much) on Medicaid: Because the government is paying the bills, you are forced to relinquish control over how you’re cared for and by whom. And most likely, you’ll still need to find other resources to pay for miscellaneous care that isn’t covered.
• Consider what you’ve already paid for: Don’t be so quick to abandon a life insurance policy (insurance companies love this- it means they don’t need to shell out a death benefit after collecting premiums for years). If your relative can no longer afford the premiums, policy owners have the option to take the present-day value of the policy while they are still alive and convert it into a Life Care Benefit.
• Before you scramble for other resources: As quoted in the New York Times, the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care estimates that it costs more than $80,000 a year on average to pay for a loved one’s stay at a nursing home. Before you dissolve investments or seek a loan, consider utilizing a life insurance policy first. Conversions include provisions for funerals, and whatever money is not spent on care goes automatically to policy beneficiaries.
If you would like more information about at-home health care, feel free to download our Guide To Privately Hiring Elder Care Workers.