Our Dog Walkers & Pet Sitters are Employees
In addition to being bonded and insured, our staff are employees – not independent contractors. Many dog walking & pet sitting companies, including some of the new national, “uber-like” companies use independent contractors instead of hiring employees. Why should this matter to you? Well by law, a business cannot train or guide independent contractors, and they cannot specify exactly how the business of dog walking or pet sitting is carried out. This means that it is the individual walker/sitter’s responsibility to train themselves as little or as much as they see fit to complete the job. This means it will be up to you as the client to determine how knowledgeable your walker/pet sitter is. Do you want that responsibility? In addition, independent contractors can substitute whomever they wish to do a job, without notice to the owner of the company hiring them, or to the client. That means that ANYONE can be entering your home, and they may not be bonded and insured. Lastly, if you use a national company that advertises individual walkers/sitters that are independent contractors—these companies have often never even met the walkers/sitters in person that they advertise on their site. Their screening process is minimal and done through an online application. If you have ever tried online dating, then you know why this type of screening process is not ideal when your chosen caregiver will be entering your home and caring for your precious pets.
As employees, our walker/sitters are fully trained by us, following our guidelines, policies and procedures developed over the years. We provide ongoing training for staff, and workers compensation should they get hurt on the job.
Here’s why we do not hire our walkers and sitters as Independent Contractors (IC’s), these guidelines are determined by the IRS:
- We would not be able to instruct our walkers/sitters how to do their jobs. We feel this is important because we have policies in place to ensure customer satisfaction, the pets and clients safety, and the safety of our staff.
- We would not be able to provide any training for our walkers/sitters. Our staff goes through policy training, on the job training and pet first aid training before we even consider having them perform walks/visits on their own. As a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, the owner wants to be able to pass important handling skills on to her staff. In addition, we perform random quality checks to ensure consistent top notch service.
- An Independent Contractor is allowed to have someone else or an assistant perform their work. We ensure that all work performed is done only by a qualified, trained and insured dog walker or pet sitter that we have pre-approved, background checked and screened, and trained. We don’t want substitutions, and we don’t think our clients do either.
- Independent Contractors should not be given steady work. We want our staff to work with us for many months and years to come and we want a consistent walker/sitter for your pet and household.
- SNS could not set the walkers/sitters work hours. Independent Contractors set their own work hours, and we feel it is important to have our staff work the hours that the pets need them the most, not let them dictate their own schedule.
- Independent Contractors should work for more than just one firm. We want our walkers and sitters loyal to not only SNS but our customers too.
- Independent Contractors should have their own businesses. IC’s should advertise their businesses to the general public as well and should have their own business cards, liability insurance, promotional materials, advertising, phone listing, etc. This is a cost that we take on as a business and don’t want our walkers and sitters to have to take on also.
- Our employees- walkers, sitters, trainers and office staff, are covered by workers compensation, disability insurance and unemployment insurance (as well as liability insurance and bonding). Hopefully this will never be needed, but in the event something does happen, our staff is covered by our workers compensation, disability and unemployment insurance. As Independent Contractors, this coverage is not given and leaves the client vulnerable in case of an incident.
Because you cannot dictate to an IC how to perform their job or who does it, not only could you end up with a substitution but they can bring people with them to your home. We CAN dictate who goes to your home. It is only a fully trained employee who is not allowed to bring their friends, relatives, children or personal pets.
In addition, as legal staff members, we pay a portion of their employee taxes and contribute to their social security. Our staff have all been employees since we opened our doors in 2002. We hold regular staff meetings and training, continually update our education and employ new technology as it becomes available to make sure we provide the best service anywhere.
All of these assurances cost us more to operate our business. We believe that your pets are a part of the family, and that means that we don't cut corners or put costs first. Pets come first, because family comes first. We appreciate your business and are grateful that you share our beliefs! Thank you!