When you work with a caregiver service, the company will very likely require you to sign an agreement. It is important to read it very carefully and to understand what you’re agreeing to. For example, what are you agreeing to pay? For example, if you have agreed to pay $20 an hour for a caregiver for 30 hours a week, what if some of those hours include Saturday or Sunday care? For some of the agreements provided by agencies, work on weekends could be charged at time and a half. Therefore, you are actually paying $30 an hour for that weekend shift. While for other agreements, the weekend time could just be considered part of the week and the pay would be at the regular $20 an hour rate. Another thing to look out for is whether you are paying time and a half or even twice the regular rate for a holiday. The additional costs can add up so you want to make sure you understand what you are agreeing to. What about when you go on vacation? If you go away for a week, what are your obligations under the agreement? Are you required to pay the caregiver? If the caregiver goes away on vacation for a week, does he or she get paid for vacation under the agreement? If the caregiver goes with you on vacation, what expenses, if any, are you required to pay along with the regular pay rate?
If you are entering into a private caregiver arrangement, you should consider creating a written agreement with your caregiver. You might choose a formal contract, similar to a caregiver agency, or a less formal contract that just lays out your expectations. If the latter, you need to think about what your expectations are, i.e. hours, pay, vacation time and expenses, overtime and holiday pay, etc. These expectations should be clearly understood by both you and the individual caregiver. It is a best practice to put these things in writing in some sort of contract and to discuss them to make sure they are clearly understood by all parties. Otherwise, you may suddenly find your caregiver disgruntled or you may become disgruntled over something that could have been worked out prior to the arrangement.
On a final note, with the COVID-19 (“Covid”) crisis, many agreements now include Covid waivers. These provisions require the caregivers, or sometimes the one receiving care, to sign off that if one contracts Covid from the other, they would hold the other harmless and not sue them for any damages sustained. As there is no clear legal precedent on this issue at this time, it is difficult to surmise whether or not those provisions are enforceable. What is important is for the caregiver, the one receiving care, and anyone residing in the home with the one receiving care, to take all necessary precautions to avoid getting Covid or transmitting it to another. Including in the agreement requirements for daily “no Covid symptoms” certification and temperature checks and the use of masks, gloves and other protective measures is certainly a good idea.
Elizabeth A. Green is a Member in PK Law’s Wealth Preservation Department. Ms. Green advises individuals and families on basic to sophisticated estate planning. She works closely with her clients in preparing the necessary documents including wills, powers of attorney, healthcare directives and various forms of trusts to ensure her clients’ estate planning needs and wishes are achieved. Her depth of knowledge in estate planning, tax and charitable planning combined with the compassion she extends is greatly appreciated by her clients who are often in crisis and in desperate need of guidance. Ms. Green has assisted many clients in addressing the unique issues surrounding disabled and elderly family members; the difficult process of handling the affairs of a deceased family member or close friend; and business owners with succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, financing and day-to-day business concerns. Ms. Green can be reached at 410-769-6150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.