Archive for July 15th, 2012

Hiring a “Trunk Slammer” To Clean Your Home May Lead to Legal Trouble

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Cleaning Industry | Tags: |

ARCSI Seal of Excellence for Sponge & Sparkle. A sobering article from Dave Crichton, Co-Founder, Global Cleaners Association about the dangers of hiring a “Trunk Slammer” to clean your home.  As Dave writes, is that $20/$30 difference in rates really worth the  risk(s)?

Dave explains the differences between an established legal, cleaning company like Sponge & Sparkle and the independent workers  – known in our industry as trunk slammers … and, more importantly, what it means to you.

Raina Raflo

What the heck is a Trunk Slammer? A Few Truths About Hiring the Cheap & Unlicensed Cleaning Company

Author: D. Crichton
Co-Founder, Global Cleaners Association

In years past, you would often overhear conversations in places like  beauty salons, community clubhouses, cocktail parties and fancy restaurants  that would start something like this…
“Wow, I just found the best house cleaner and…they are really  cheap!”

This conversation was usually one of the ladies (or gentlemen) boasting about  the cleaning person they had just hired to clean their home and this home was  usually located in a high-income neighborhood because, after all, years ago  only the wealthy could afford hired helpers in the home.

Well…times have changed…kind of…
The days of only the wealthy using hired help inside the home are gone! It’s  not that the wealthier don’t use house cleaners any longer, it’s the fact that  today’s average homeowners (especially the two income earner households) are  seeking outside help with home maintenance because of time constraints, lack of  energy to clean after putting in a 40+ hour workweek, etc. The market for  independent cleaning contractors has skyrocketed over the past 10-15 years!

Along with this “boom” in demand has come the “boom” in  independent contractors who are working without occupational licenses,  insurances and may well lack the experience needed to “safely” clean  the many varied surfaces that exist in today’s homes.

The industry refers to them as…Trunk Slammers.
When a homeowner (especially those homes where both parents are working full  time just to cover expenses) goes looking for help with home maintenance,  “price” is always a huge part of the decision on just who will be  hired and…there’s nothing wrong with that…provided the potential consumer  “knows what they are paying for” and…”the possible liabilities  they are exposing themselves to” when selecting a cleaning service  provider based solely on price.

What liabilities?

When hiring a worker who is working for “under the table” wages that  are not going to be reported to the IRS as income, you (technically) become  that worker’s employer and (technically) you become responsible for income,  Medicare, social security and unemployment taxes at the Federal level and,  depending on the state you live in, may be responsible (technically) for some  of the above…again…at the state level.

When hiring a worker who is working for “under the table” wages that  are not going to be reported to the IRS as income, you (most certainly) will be  paying for that worker’s retirement also. Not today but when they retire and  realize that they have little or nothing in their Social Security retirement  account to live on , they will go on any one of a number of public assistance  programs that your hard earned tax dollars (remember them…there the one’s you  worked for and paid taxes on years ago…) will be paying for.

When hiring an uninsured worker, you become responsible (technically) for any  medical expenses for “your employee” should “your employee”  become injured while working in your home. In most states, you “should  be” paying workman’s compensation insurance for “your employee”.

When hiring an uninsured worker, you will assume all liabilities for damage,  breakage or theft of anything in your home. This may not sound like much of a  liability on your part but…remember we mentioned, “experienced”  earlier? Inexperienced people can, and do literally thousands of dollars worth  of damage to the many new surfaces in today’s homes. Things like marble,  granite, hardwood flooring, fiberglass tubs…. and the list goes on and on and  on.

Oh, one other thingyou are breaking the law by hiring these individuals.  Unwittingly (or maybe knowingly) you have become “complicit” in tax  evasion, operating (in most municipalities/states) an unlicensed business and,  in some states, operating a business without adequate liability insurance or  workman’s compensation insurance. Claiming ignorance of your cleaner’s business  status will not help. You as the purchaser of services are responsible to  investigate the legal status of “any” outside contractor who performs  “any” services on your home and you should never be afraid to ask for  documentation from those service providers. (Remember the old  “Caveat-emptor” phrase…its true!)

“Yeah”…you’re saying…”I know all this stuff already and  anyway, no one ever gets caught for this kind of stuff!”

I say…”Oh Yeah”…a little research on the subject (your  Due-Diligence) will quickly reveal that people, often unsuspecting people, are  being caught and fined everyday of the week on just these circumstances. Check  with the IRS if you don’t believe me.

The whole matter becomes an especially “different” kettle of fish if  your worker/employee is also an undocumented alien but…that’s for another  letter.

Makes you wonder…is that $20/$30 difference in rates really worth the  risk(s)?

Your money…your decision.

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About the author:

Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.

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