What Is a Household Employee?
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated December 30, 2021 | Published January 5, 2021
Updated December 30, 2021
Published January 5, 2021
While many people perform their jobs in traditional settings like an office or warehouse, others work inside people's homes. Household employees help their employers with a number of different tasks and assignments. Understanding the distinction between a contracted household employee and an internal household employee is important if you're interested in a career working with a family in their home. In this article, we explain what a household employee is, provide examples of household employees, describe the difference between household employees and independent contractors and offer a list of important records to keep for household employees.
What is a household employee?
A household employee is a person who works for their employer in their home, helping to manage the house itself or the family in some capacity. In most cases, the owner of the home hires the household employees as internal employees. The household employees receive the perks and benefits of working as an employee rather than an independent contractor. Some individuals who perform irregular work around the home, like plumbers or carpenters, are usually not considered household employees.
Examples of household employees
Household employees can perform a number of different roles within the residence. A few of the most common household positions include:
National average salary: $11.70 per hour
Primary duties: A housekeeper is responsible for the general cleaning and upkeep of the home. Daily tasks and responsibilities often include dusting surfaces, vacuuming rugs, mopping floors, laundering clothes, cleaning bathrooms and other cleaning as necessary or prescribed.
Read more: Learn About Being a Housekeeper
National average salary: $12.05 per hour
Primary duties: A cook is responsible for preparing, serving and storing food for their clients. Common day-to-day responsibilities for cooks include cleaning and maintaining food preparation stations and areas, preparing food for the client or homeowner, overseeing any other kitchen staff and ordering food supplies.
Read more: Learn About Being a Cook
National average salary: $12.30 per hour
Primary duties: A home health aide is responsible for providing basic care and companionship to their clients, who are often elderly. Common daily job duties for a home health aide include assisting their client with basic tasks, bathing and grooming clients, conversing with their clients and some light housekeeping as needed.
Read more: Learn About Being a Home Health Aide
National average salary: $13.29 per hour
Primary duties: A gardener is responsible for maintaining the landscaping around the property. Common job duties for a gardener usually include planning and executing landscape designs, watering plants, pruning bushes and trees, removing yard waste and managing pests.
National average salary: $14.82 per hour
Primary duties: A driver is responsible for taking their client to various destinations via car. A few of the most common job duties for a driver include getting correct directions to their client's location, driving the client to and from appointments and other ventures, performing basic vehicle maintenance and tracking vehicle mileage and necessary services.
National average salary: $15.49 per hour
Primary duties: A butler is responsible for hosting guests in their client's home. Common day-to-day job duties for a butler include answering the phone or door, overseeing other household staff members, ensuring guests have all the items they need while in the home and assisting with other household duties as determined by their employer.
National average salary: $17.69 per hour
Primary duties: A nanny is responsible for caring for their client's children. Common job duties for a nanny include creating a stimulating learning environment for the children, bathing and dressing the children, diapering or potty training the children and providing educational activities for the children.
Read more: How To Become a Nanny in 7 Steps
National average salary: $23.23 per hour
Primary duties: A private duty nurse is responsible for caring for ill patients in the patient's home. Private duty nurses' responsibilities can vary depending on the specifics of their patient's case, but common job duties include providing medication, helping their patients perform physical therapy exercises, monitoring vital signs and using medical equipment as needed.
Household employees vs. independent contractors
Some people hire independent contractors rather than household employees to help with home maintenance and upkeep. While these two groups may perform some of the same tasks, there are important distinctions between household employees and independent contractors:
Generally, household employees work exclusively for a single employer, using tools and resources provided by the employer and on a schedule set by their employer. Household employees usually complete a W-4 tax form, just as employees for traditional businesses do, and their employers manage their employment taxes. If you want to know more about taxation when working as a household employee, it's best to consult your local tax office or a tax professional for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
Independent contractors own their own businesses and usually have multiple clients. While they may work regularly for a consistent set of clients, the independent contractor chooses when they perform the work and provides their own tools and resources. Since they're not employees of the homeowner, the independent contractor manages their own taxes, usually through a 1099 tax form. As with household employees, if you have additional questions about how taxation works for independent contractors, it's best to consult a tax professional about your specific situation.
Important records to keep for household employees
The homeowner or employer of a single household employee or a team of household employees must maintain certain records and submit specific documentation to their state and federal government. Review these important documents necessary for household employees:
W-4: This IRS form is commonly provided to new employees at the start of their employment.
Personnel file: This file contains the employee's contact information like full legal name, address, social security number and phone number.
Employer Identification Number: The employers of household employees must apply for an EIN number from the IRS.
Social payments: Some household employee employers must pay items like social security, Medicare and federal unemployment insurance and keep records of these payments.
Employee withholding: The employers of household employees should withhold earnings for tax purposes at the request of their employees.
State withholding: Employers of household employees should withhold state income tax and pay for other state services like workers' compensation insurance and disability as needed.
W-2: The household employee or employees' employer must provide their employee or employees with a W-2 form at the end of each year of employment.
Whenever you're dealing with tax issues, it's best to consult a tax professional to ensure compliance within your specific situation.
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