Are you interested in becoming a caregiver?
Apply Now »

Is Private Caregiving Worth the Risk?

Thinking about becoming a private caregiver? Here are a few things to consider when deciding between private and agency caregiving.

Is Private Caregiving Worth the Risk?

Risks of Being a Private Caregiver

For many, caring for seniors is more than a job; it's a calling. Most of our Comfort Keepers® caregivers believe that making a difference in their clients' lives is the most fulfilling part of their day. 

Now more than ever, there is a need for in-home caregivers who provide companionship and help seniors stay active and engaged. That said, caregivers entering the field must make an important decision: should you work as a private caregiver or with an agency? 

One of the big draws for private caregivers is the hourly rate. It is understandable. Working for cash – or getting paid directly – and avoiding deducting taxes from your paycheck can seem appealing.  

While it may be tempting, preparing your business taxes as an individual isn't always appealing. Ultimately, the risks can outweigh the benefits.  

A private caregiver is on their own with no support system. A Comfort Keeper caregiver is part of a caring community, dedicated to supporting its caregivers, ready to offer a helping hand when needed. This philosophy of caring begins with the seniors we serve and carries through to our caregivers. 

Here are a few more things to consider before deciding between private and agency caregiving. 

Taxes for Private Caregivers

Although private caregiver jobs may offer a higher hourly rate, your wages are still taxable. The annual maximum you can earn before taxes are taken out differs depending on the tax year - you’ll need to reference the IRS document Tax Topic No. 756 Employment Taxes for Household Employees for detailed information.

By going private, you have two roles: caregiver and business owner.  

For some, this is appealing. But if you don't accurately report your income each year and the IRS finds out about it, you could be prosecuted for tax fraud and subject to penalties, interest, and a sizable amount of back taxes. 

And if you are paid under the table and get caught, you could face jail time.

When you work for an agency, your taxes are deducted for you, and all you have to do is file at the end of the year. This gives you more time to devote to getting to know your clients on a deeply personal level.  

Hidden Liability in Private Care Jobs

As a private caregiver, you may not benefit from workman's comp or have liability and other insurances that can protect you if an accident occurs while working in someone's home. These insurances are important but costly and come out of your pocket.

If you are injured, you'll likely be out of work with a hefty medical bill and may lose your client. You could be sued in the event of an accident or tragedy, and if you don't carry liability insurance, you could risk losing your savings, home, car, and other assets.

With an agency, you get better support, flexibility, and more compassion and care when you need it. 

Private Caregiver Social Security Benefits Could Suffer

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA, is a U.S. Federal payroll tax deducted from each paycheck. This is your Social Security contribution and is tracked by your Social Security number.  

Without this contribution, your social security benefit will be much lower than expected. This could affect your retirement later in life. As a self-employed private caregiver, it's on you to grow your retirement savings.  

An agency will make your FICA contribution for you, so all you need to concentrate on is building a genuine connection with your clients and making a difference in their quality of life. 

Private Caregivers' Rights May Be Violated

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to most private caregivers. This is the law that provides overtime protections, among other worker-related issues. Important areas that the FLSA covers are hours worked and overtime pay. 

As a private caregiver, your rights may be violated, and you may end up working an extremely long shift but not receiving overtime. Without protections, violations can easily occur. 

Flexible scheduling makes every day an adventure for caregivers. Stable hours let you plan your time. Working for a trusted, professional agency ensures you get paid for the hours you've worked. 

Private Caregivers Are Vulnerable to Wage Theft

If your employer doesn't pay all the wages you are due, this is wage theft. Employees lose billions of dollars annually in earned income that they never receive.  

For example, not getting paid on time or not receiving overtime pay may become an issue and lead to some uncomfortable conversations. In addition, if you are ill, take a vacation, or need a day off for personal reasons, it may jeopardize your job. 

When working for an agency, you report your hours and get paid on schedule. And if you need to take a day off or go on vacation, your manager can find someone to cover for you as you enjoy time with your family.  

Private Caregivers Don't Have Medical Support

Medical issues are not uncommon when caring for seniors. You won't have access to a medical support team in private duty caregiver jobs. This means you won't benefit from having a fast-acting, dedicated nurse available when medical issues arise. This could put you and your client at risk. 

In addition, you may be pressured into doing tasks like administering medicines, giving shots, or wound care that are illegal if you are not a licensed nurse and do not have a doctor's order.  

Private Caregivers Don't Get Legal Protection

Without competency testing and training, including infection control training, there is a risk of doing harm. And without an agency's protection, you can be held legally liable for it.  

In addition, if a client's property, money, or person is harmed, you may not have Bonding and Liability insurance to cover damages. And should your client pass away or become incapacitated, you may be accused of stealing.  

This is less likely to happen when working for a reputable in-home care agency like Comfort Keepers. Comfort Keepers provides Liability Insurance and Bonding for your protection. 

Private Caregivers Have Less Support 

As a private caregiver, you will not have a support system to guard against wage theft or worker rights violations. If a family member mistreats or harasses you, you won't have the protection of a devoted support team. 

We support our Comfort Keepers® with an expert team that helps solve any problems that may arise. Teamwork is crucial when caring for seniors, and we ensure you have the resources to solve problems quickly and efficiently. 

A Rewarding and Fulfilling Career Helping Others

Whether "under the table" or not, working as a private caregiver comes with many risks. At Comfort Keepers, we support our caregivers and help them avoid these risks. We offer a rewarding career with numerous benefits, including flexible hours and opportunities for advancement within Comfort Keepers. You get competitive pay as well as the support and training you need to help seniors thrive by sparking moments of joy. 

The Comfort Keepers Difference:

Our caregivers develop relationships with their clients and keep them physically and mentally active. Their focus is doing activities with our clients, not for them, encouraging participation and engagement. They are known for the optimism, integrity, and professionalism they bring every day to elevate the lives of seniors.

If you are interested in a rewarding career with flexible scheduling, health and educational training, and career advancement opportunities, contact Comfort Keepers today.

Sign up to receive helpful info right to your inbox.

We understand choosing an in-home care provider can be a difficult decision, and we want to make your journey as easy as possible. We're here to support you by providing helpful senior care tips and information on in-home care and senior health and wellbeing topics.

Start a Job with a Purpose

Uplifting training and support for you every step of the way.

Apply to be a caregiver