Are dog walkers employees? Get Your Pet Thinking

How to determine if you should classify your team as Employees or Independent Contractors

Time To Pet is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. It is best to consult with a lawyer regarding specific questions relating to worker classification. Worker classification can vary by government agency and from state to state. This is meant to be a guide to help pet sitters and dog walkers understand the general differences between Independent Contractors and Employees and to help direct them to more resources.

One of the most common questions we hear our customers discussing is the great Independent Contractor vs. Employee debate. Historically, many Pet Sitting or Dog Walking companies would use Independent Contractors (or ICs) instead of employees. Why, you ask? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Using ICs is perceived to be less expensive, and in certain situations — it most certainly can be. Having Employees requires the Employer (you) to pay state and federal unemployment tax, social security tax, and workers compensation/disability premiums. If your business uses ICs — you are not required to make these payments. Sounds great, right? Well, it is — except you don’t just get to call a worker an Independent Contractor. Your staff members need to meet specific requirements to classify as Independent Contractors. It can be a little confusing, and many dog walking and pet sitting companies may be currently misclassifying their workers.

So what are the requirements for how you classify your team members? This is where the debate can get tricky. There really is no one definition of what makes an Independent Contractor. The subject can be variable, especially on a state by state status. In an attempt to clear things up a little, we can look at the guidelines stated by the IRS. The IRS has a set of common law rules to determine worker status. These rules fall into three distinct categories:

  • Behavioral Control: This relates to whether the business directs and controls what type of work is done and how the work is done; through instructions, training, or other means. That means if you use independent contractors, you cannot have an employee manual that they must follow. You cannot provide specific rules or oversight to contractors. You also cannot monitor contractors with GPS. Contractors are not under any obligation for permanent or recurring scheduling.
  • Financial Control: Financial control refers to the authority that a business has over the financial aspects of the worker’s job. An independent contractor will typically invest in the equipment necessary for the work, and they are permitted to advertise and seek additional dog walking and pet sitting work – even if that means working for your competitor. It also means that they must purchase their own insurance, which can be very expensive.
  • Relationship: Many companies have written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create. They must define the permanency of the relationship. The business determines if they will provide any benefits to their workers, such as insurance, pension plans, vacation pay, or sick pay. Finally, if the worker performs duties that are the primary source of income for the company, they are more than likely an employee.
  • California has taken steps to make the designation even more understandable. According to the ABC Test passed by California State Supreme Court:

    A hiring entity classifying an individual as an independent contractor now bears the burden of establishing that such a classification is proper under the “ABC test.” To do so, the entity must prove each of the following three factors:

    (A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;

    (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

    (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

    More than twenty states are already using some type of ABC test when making classification designations for workers. California is trying to get ahead of the growing trend towards the “gig economy” and based on their classification methods, it is highly unlikely that any pet sitting or dog walking business would pass this test.

    What are a few benefits of turning independent contractors into employees?

    As your business grows, you will be spending less time performing actual walks and pet sits. This means that your workers will be representing you in the field. They will be the face of your business and the ones representing you to your clients. Hiring is almost always one of the top issues that new companies have.

    A few benefits of classifying your workers as employees:

  • You can create standard practices and training for all your employees. Including a training manual and code of conduct.
  • Create a company culture. You have shirts, specialized tools.
  • You can have your employees sign a non-compete, so they don’t end up splitting time with one of your competitors and possibly taking business with them
  • Offer consistent walkers/sitters to your clients. They will know the person they are dealing with and feel reassured
  • Hiring one good employee with full availability can save you the headache of having to hire many IC’s
  • Why You Want an Employee Walking Your Dog

    Have you ever considered the framework of how a dog walking company operates or how it trains its new hires? Have you thought about how it treats its people to ensure happy, healthy, and invested service providers are entering your home to work with your pet?

    One key ingredient in the quality of service a dog walking company offers is its choice to hire employees or outsource work to independent contractors.

    What Nobody Tells You About Dog Walking

    Around fifty-four percent of American families own a pet. You may be one of the pet parents seeking pet care providers’ services to groom or train your pets. You may have plans to hire pet sitters to take care of your pets while you are at work or on a vacation. Before you go on the quest of searching for the best pet care provider, think about this question first. Do you know that some pet care companies hire pet care employees, while others use independent contractors? So now, kindly read our article about the difference between a pet care employee and an independent contractor.

    Why is it important to know the difference between pet care employees and independent contractors? Of course, it is beneficial to know the difference between the two, as it affects the quality of service and cares your pet will get. Also, it is best to choose a pet care service that will give quality care and value to your money.

    Getting the best pet sitter for your pet is not easy. In addition, there are lots of things to consider in choosing the best candidate for the position. One important thing to consider when getting the services of pet care providers is their worker’s status. In the same way, a worker’s status affects the quality of care your pet is going to receive. So, let’s find out what are the differences between a pet care employee and an independent contractor.