Nanny Tax Compliance Infographic

Mistakes or misinterpretations of nanny tax compliance laws can mean IRS audits, thousands of dollars in fines and penalties or an employee lawsuit. Our friends at GTM Payroll Services have created this handy infographic that highlights what you need to do to maintain nanny tax compliance. Click the image below to view a larger version.

nanny tax compliance

What You Can Do About the Equifax Breach

equifax breachNearly half of the country’s population was affected by the recent breach of Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency that collects driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers (SSN), and credit card numbers. Hackers gained access to the information of 143 million individuals. While the investigation into the cause of the breach will be ongoing, the initial belief is that a third party and/or an employee is at fault.

There are steps to take to ensure your information is not at risk.

  • First, find out if your information has been exposed by going to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Click the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your SSN. Make sure you are on a secure computer and network connection when you do this. You will then find out if you’ve been affected by the breach. Even if it says you are not impacted, keep in mind that at this point, the accuracy is not 100% verifiable and it may be safer to assume your information was accessed.
  • Check your credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com. If you see any accounts or activities that are not familiar, your identity may be at risk. Check IdentityTheft.gov to find out how to proceed.
  • Consider freezing your credit files. This will prevent someone from opening a new account using your information (though it won’t help against any existing accounts). Alternatively, you can create a fraud alert on your files to inform creditors that your identity may have been stolen and to make sure anyone opening an account in your name is actually you.
  • Closely watch your bank account and credit cards for any suspiscious activity.
  • Strengthen all your financial passwords with two-factor authentication, such as getting password confirmation via text or phone call.
  • Be aware of phishing scams. You may receive emails from what looks like Equifax or another company saying they want to help, but keep in mind that credit companies should never ask for driver’s license numbers or full SSNs (they may ask for the last 4 digits). They should verify your identity with your credit card number and security questions.

Performance Review for Your Nanny

performance reviews for nanniesCompanies of all sizes establish periodic (written) reviews and evaluations of employees. It is a good employment practice for household employers to conduct performance reviews for nannies, because it allows the employer and employee to communicate what the employee has accomplished and areas that may need development. With the reviews, nannies are provided an opportunity to improve, and the employer has a documented history of the nanny’s performance and problems.

While informal employer-employee discussions relating to job performance and goals are encouraged and expected throughout a nanny’s tenure, it is common practice for an employer to perform a formal written performance review at the end of an employee’s introductory period, and then on a scheduled basis. Many employers choose to review nannies on a yearly basis. Some prefer to evaluate employees every six months. The work agreement and the employee handbook should detail expected review times.

When reviewing a nanny’s work performance, employers need to remember to focus on work performance and not on the employee’s personality or characteristics. Employers should:

  • be as positive as possible, but very clear about situations—speak frankly and in a straightforward manner;
  • offer a review of both strengths and weaknesses;
  • cite specific examples of when the employee has exceeded, met, or failed job expectations;
  • set reasonable goals for the employee to work toward (and meet) in developing and improving skills;
  • schedule a second review to determine the employee’s progress if her or his performance is weak (this could be done in three months or six months—whichever is considered a fair amount of time for the employee to improve and demonstrate better performance); and,
  • list in the review any disciplinary actions, including termination, if the employee fails to improve his or her performance.

Employees may thoroughly examine all performance reviews and may provide a written opinion to be placed in the personnel file. Some evaluation forms have a designated area for the employee’s response. It is common practice for both the employer and employee to both sign the review. This documentation helps protect the employer from any false claim made by a current or former nanny.

Performance reviews may or may not be accompanied by a salary increase consideration. Employers should clearly state that salary increases are awarded in light of an employee’s significant performance and at the employer’s discretion—and certainly are not guaranteed. Salary increases are evaluated by the employee’s:

  • ability to perform all job tasks and functions;
  • attendance and punctuality;
  • willingness to work;
  • ability to cooperate with other employees and household members; and,
  • adherence to all household policies.

For more information, please contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Meeting the Growing Senior Care Demand

meeting the growing senior care demandAccording to the U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA), in 2015, 14.1 percent of the U.S. population was aged 65 or older, or one in every seven Americans. By 2020, 54 million people in the U.S. will be over the age of 65; by 2040, that number will top 82 million. People reaching age 65 today have an average life expectancy of 85.8 years (male) to 87.8 years (female), according to the Society of Actuaries MP-2016; which will result in a staggering number of seniors over the age of 80 in the next 20 years, many of whom will need some kind of care. Already, we can see the growing demand for senior care is critical in our lives and so it will continue.

Senior care is essential to our expanding elderly population. Some senior care is short-term, following an accident or injury that generally resolves itself. Most, however, is long-term care which involves a variety of services which help meet both the medical and non-medical needs of seniors with chronic illness, disability, or advanced age who have difficulty caring for themselves. Long-term care can be assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, bathing, meal preparation, and using the bathroom, or medical care that requires the expertise of skilled practitioners to address chronic conditions.

Senior care relates to a wide range of care but commonly refers to extended services for seniors who need help with ADLs. Senior care can be provided in a senior’s home, as well as the home of a family member (such as a son or daughter), in the community, or in various facilities like adult day care centers, fixed communities, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing homes.

In-home senior care is usually provided in three ways:

  1. By a home health care agency that employs the worker to work in the family’s home, and sees to payroll, taxes, and human resources. (The agency employs the senior care provider in the home and maintains control of the worker’s job duties.)
  2. By a referral or placement agency (like A New England Nanny) that finds and recruits the senior care worker on behalf of the family, charging a fee to do so, but then withdraws direct responsibility and transfers control for the employment over to the family. This type of agency may provide advice, support, and replacement services, if needed.
  3. By hiring independently, whereby the family or friend finds, hires, and employs the senior care worker according to all federal, state, and local requirements as a household employer, on behalf of the senior needing care (sometimes the senior is also the one employing the caregiver directly).

To achieve an effective and practical balance between your career and your family—making your private and professional lives enjoyable, fulfilling, and manageable—you decided to hire an in-home caregiver for your parent or elderly relative and, therefore, to have your senior or yourself become a household employer. And we’re here to help! In addition to companion caregivers, we can also provide personal care aides and Certified Nursing Assistants. Caregivers in those fields can assist seniors with bathing and toileting, tasks that companion caregivers don’t generally perform.

Contact us at (518) 348-0400 and let us know how we can meet your senior care needs.

Reasonable Suspicion of Nanny’s Drug or Alcohol Use

reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol useEnsuring a safe and healthy workplace is a top concern of household employers, and one of the ways to accomplish this is to inform your nanny or other employee that drug and alcohol use is not permitted. But what if you suspect your nanny is not following this rule?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers may be able to identify workers with substance abuse problems by noting aspects of their performance and behavior. While these symptoms may not mean that a worker has an alcohol or a drug abuse problem, employers should be alert to any of these aspects and may have a nanny or other household employee submit to a drug test on “reasonable suspicion.” It is very helpful to have documentation of what observable physical characteristics and behaviors were used as a basis for that reasonable suspicion in case you are ever challenged on it.

Remember, it is not the employer’s job to diagnose substance abuse, but it is the employer’s job to ensure health and safety within the work environment. Clear and firm communication with the employee focused on his or her job performance is key, as is explaining the drug-free workplace policy, performance policies, and what will occur when performance expectations are not met.

Our friends at GTM Payroll Services have created an Alcohol and Drug Use Reasonable Suspicion Checklist to guide you on what symptoms to look for and what testing procedures to follow should you deem it necessary.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

 

Hiring Without Performing Background Checks? Bad Idea

hiring without performing background checksThe old adage, better to be safe than sorry, cannot be more true when it comes to using sources to hire an employee for your home. The media is rife with stories on the dangers faced when household employees are hired without performing background checks. Even more stories are bandied about the household help community by word of mouth. The dangers of hiring without background checks being performed range from theft to physical harm. All of which may be avoided by thoroughly checking an employment candidate’s background.

In early 2013, a nanny from Ireland was accused of killing the one-year-old Cambridge, MA girl in her care from physical trauma much like shaken baby syndrome. A simple background check would have showed orders of protection against her and a violent past. (While the nanny spent two years in jail, the Massachusetts state medical officer in 2016 reversed the medical decision in this case as well as two others dealing with shaken baby syndrome, resulting in the nanny being immediately deported to Ireland. The case remains in the news as 1,800 medical pediatricians petitioned the Massachusetts governor in 2016 to review the state medical officer’s controversial decision.) (The Boston Globe, WCRB)

A mother, who wrote a 2015 parenting.com article, details why a background check could have saved her family from a dangerous situation. The mom admitted she did not perform a background check when she hired her nanny via Craigslist. “Had we done a simple search,” she wrote, “we would have uncovered her [the nanny’s] history of passing bad checks and a string of arrests from her early 20s. But we didn’t, and we got burned—bad.” The nanny also worked as a restaurant hostess, a job the nanny did not disclose to her household employer, and also created a website featuring poses in various states of undress. The nanny stole credit card information from restaurant patrons and ended up in jail.

Household employers must be sure to be thorough in their checks. Employers who relied on a national agency to perform background checks are finding its checks were insufficient—and have paid dearly. In 2014, A California nanny who had been hired online physically abused the twins she was charged with caring. In 2013, a greater Boston area nanny—a notorious thief with dozens of larceny and fraud charges and who served jail time—stole some $280,000 from her employer’s checking account. And, in Chicago in 2013, a three-year-old child died from a fractured skull while in the care of a nanny with previous legal run-ins and a 2010 DUI conviction.

The importance of background checks—and the increase of parents asking for background checks on their nannies—markedly increased after a nanny stabbed two New York City children to death and then tried to kill herself. This horrific 2012 Upper West Side murder opened parents’ eyes to the dangers of ignoring background checks. As with any hire, it is wise to treat every source for finding a nanny or other household help with caution and use common sense throughout the process. Each hire should not involve any short cuts.

A New England Nanny performs rigorous, thorough screenings of all our applicants, ensuring peace of mind for any family that hires through us. Learn more about our background checks, and contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Picky Eaters and the Green Eggs and Ham Moment

picky eaters green eggs and hamIf you have kids (or “nanny kids”), chances are you’ve read them the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham at least once or 18 times. When my now-10-year-old son was much younger, he was very picky about what he ate, and getting him to even try something new was a struggle that often wasn’t worth having.

One time I was discussing the moral of Green Eggs and Ham with him at dinner, because through his facial gesticulation he suggested the chicken I made for dinner that night was not up to his standard of quality. I told him I was sorry he didn’t like it (and to be honest I wasn’t thrilled with it either…a new recipe that was not a winner), but that I was very happy that he at least tried it. We talked about how it’s ok if he doesn’t like something, as long as he tries it. He somehow implied that he wouldn’t like anything that he had to be convinced to try, which is when the Seuss story came up.

“Remember when the guy kept saying he didn’t like green eggs and ham?”

“Yeah.”

“And then Sam finally gets him to try them?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what happened?”

“He LIKED it!!”

So it seemed, at least at the time, that he got the point of the story – it may have been the first time he’d connected a story’s message to a real-life experience.

I started thinking about my own “Green Eggs and Ham moment” – when you try something that you expect to dislike, and you end up loving it. The one that comes up in recent memory for me is fish (not shellfish – I’ve always liked that). I grew up having a variety of fish once a week – salmon, shark, turbot, orange roughy…and I never cared for any of it. Once I left home for college, I never ate fish at all. But a few years ago, my wife and I were out to dinner with my parents – the same parents who turned me off fish as a young boy. We were at a local restaurant and they ordered a sea bass dish. I summoned up some courage and asked myself, “What would I tell my son to do here?” So I decided to try it. And in my son’s words, “I LIKED it!!” I did like green eggs and…I mean, sea bass! Since then, I now eat fish about once a week.

My son is still not a great eater in terms of variety. But he usually is willing to at least try anything we ask him to, and I credit Green Eggs and Ham with some of that, planting the seed of encouragement at an early age. Ironically, I have made green eggs and ham for dinner a few times, and it didn’t go over well. But that may be more of a reflection on my cooking and the rather unappetizing look of eggs and ham colored with green food coloring.

How do you get your kids to try new things? Please tell us about your “Green Eggs and Ham moments!”

Kid’s Camp Program During Your Conference or Event

kid's camp program during your conference or eventIf your organization is holding a conference or event in the Capital Region or other Upstate areas and employees will be bringing their families, we have the perfect way to keep the kids entertained while your employees fulfill their work obligations.

The mission of A New England Nanny’s Kid’s Camp program is to assist parents who need child care while they attend events and conferences. Kid’s Camp provides children with a unique, interactive and fun-filled event of their own to attend. As with all of our Conference & Event Services, parents will enjoy peace-of-mind knowing that their children are receiving the absolute best care when attending A New England Nanny’s Kid’s Camp. Parents can relax and focus on their ‘grown-up’ event without worrying if their children are well-cared for and entertained.

A New England Nanny’s Kid’s Camp is a service for groups attending conferences and special events in hotels or other venues. Every Kid’s Camp program is individually customized based on your group’s needs. Parents simply register children ahead of time and when the event arrives, they drop children off at the designated location at the scheduled time.

With a service like Kids Camp, Event Planners can increase attendance for meetings and events. Busy parents that would not otherwise be able to attend an event due to lack of child care, can now join in with the knowledge that their kids are safe and having fun, often at the same location as their event.  Our Kid‘s Camp has an Open Door Policy, so parents are welcome to drop in at any time to check-in on their children as desired. Additionally, your event organizers will have input on every aspect of your Kid’s Camp program, because we customize each program specifically for your group’s wishes.

Want to tie your Kid’s Camp theme into your adult event? We can do that! Interested in a specific type of project for your Kid’s Camp, like outdoor recreation or various art projects?
We can do that! Whatever the theme, we’ll provide the age-appropriate activities that keep children engaged and enjoying every minute of Kid’s Camp.

Kid’s Camp programs are open for all children, from 8 weeks of age to 14 years; as well as programs for children with disabilities. Our skilled and professional staff is available
to provide one-on-one care as needed.

Please contact us at (518) 348-0400 for a customized proposal for service.

 

New York Paid Family Leave and Household Employers

new york paid family leaveNew York State employers — including household employers — will be required to provide paid family leave to their employees beginning January 1, 2018. Our friends at GTM Payroll Services have put together this handy guide to ensure you are compliant with the new law and that your nanny knows how to use this benefit.

What is NYS Paid Family Leave (PFL)?

Passed in 2016, NYS PFL extends beyond the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), providing employees paid leave for various family or medical reasons. PFL can be taken by male or female employees to:

  • Bond with a newborn, adopted or foster-care child during the first 12 months after birth or placement
  • Care for a seriously ill family member
  • Address important needs related to a family member’s military service

Your employee may receive wage compensation of up to eight weeks for PFL in 2018 with a maximum weekly benefit of 50 percent of their average weekly wage or the average New York State weekly wage of $1,305.92, whichever is less.

Full-time employees are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Part-time workers can take advantage of PFL after 175 working days. They can expect to maintain their same or similar job upon their return to work.

Is my household employee covered by this new law?

Yes, household employees who work 40 or more hours a week and 30 days in a calendar year are required to be covered with both disability insurance and PFL. If your employee does not work at least 40 hours, you may set up a voluntary PFL policy or you may add PFL to your existing voluntary disability policy.

Who pays for NYS PFL?

The program is paid for by employees through an additional payroll deduction that can begin on July 1, 2017. New York State dictates the rate of this deduction and can change it each year. For now, the rate will be .126% of the first $1,305.92 earned each week (max. deduction of $1.65 per week).

While on paid family leave, employees are compensated through the program and not by their employer.

Who is the premium paid to?

Your disability insurance carrier will also be your carrier for PFL. The PFL premium will be paid when your disability premium is due.

Can I set this up if my employee does not work 40 or more hours per week?

You can purchase a voluntary PFL policy or you may add PFL to your existing voluntary disability policy. You can request a quote through our insurance department.

My employee works 40+ hours per week and I want her to be eligible for PFL but I do not have a disability policy set up. What should I do?

Household employers in New York State are required to have a disability policy when an employee works 40 or more hours per week. You can request a quote through our insurance department.

I have a disability policy and want my employee covered for PFL. Can I pay this for her instead of deducting it from her pay?

Yes. If you do not deduct the amount from your employee’s paycheck, then you will pay the cost on your employee’s behalf. You should contact your disability insurance policy administrator to find out how you would make a payment for the PFL policy.

Am I required to deduct the NYS PFL from my employee?

Technically, you are not. However, you will still need to pay the premium to your insurance carrier. If you do not deduct the amount from your employee’s pay, then you will pay the cost on your employee’s behalf. If you would prefer this method, please let us know as soon as possible so we can stop the deduction from your employee’s pay.

Source: https://gtm.com/household/new-york-paid-family-leave-household-employers/

 

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Technology to Help with Family Travel

technology for family travelLots of families travel during the summer, and while there are always the hassles of dealing with airports, schedules, and making sure your home is safe while you’re away, luckily there are things available to help you manage your summer travels. Here are a couple of pieces of travel technology for families you may find useful this season.

TripIt App

We have found TripIt to be very helpful in organizing travel plans, both before and during your trip. You load any confirmation emails (hotel, car rental, flight, restaurant, etc.) into the app, and it creates a master itinerary that includes all of your bookings in one place. You can then view your itinerary any time from any device, even if you’re not online. You can then add or edit your plans, sync your itinerary with your calendar, and share with others. The app is free, but they also have a paid plan that lets you access more features, such as getting real-time flight alerts, searching for a different seat or alternate flights, and more. Check out more information here. We hope you find it as useful as we do.

Smart Home Security

Remember the old days when you had to rely on neighbors and friends to check on your house when you went out of town? Now there are smart alarm and surveillance packages that will keep your home safe and let you monitor what’s happening from afar. You can remotely control things like door locks, lawnmowers, lights, thermostats, vacuums, and even pet feeders, using your smartphone and an app. PC Magazine recently published an article that compares several smart home security plans and discusses the components, integration, and application of the systems, and displays reviews of each one, along with advice on doing it yourself or having a professional service handle it. Read the article here.

If you or someone you know is traveling to the Capital Region for business or pleasure this summer and needs child care, we’re here to help! Our hotel and event child care services provide parents with peace of mind so they can enjoy some childless activities knowing their kids are in good hands. Call (518) 348-0400 for more information.