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Reduce Your Risk

What Are My Risks If I Hire the
Wrong Housecleaning Service?

Maid Service and Risk Exposure. Good cleaning services (maid services) provide true value for your dollar. Some cleaning agencies gain larger profit margins and undercut reputable cleaning services by seriously increasing customers’ exposure to risk. A simple "Yes" or "No" answer to three questions can help you tell the difference.

Three Questions to Ask a Cleaning Service (Maid Service)

1. Does the Cleaning Service (Maid Service) Carry Liability Insurance?

Liability Insurance against the Risk of Property Damage. A first-class cleaning service (maid service) will carry proper insurance to protect clients against accidental property damage. Don’t be misled by expressions like "self-insured" or "covered by your own property insurance" or "we’re licensed and bonded." Even "insured" can be misleading if it does not include both liability insurance against accidental property damage and workers’ compensation insurance in case of injury on the job. Like workers’ compensation insurance, liability insurance typically costs a cleaning service thousands of dollars a year. But in the housecleaning industry "licensed" is simply a business license within incorporated cities, not a contractor’s license, and costs only a small yearly fee. Likewise, "bonded" is simply a promise of business-practice integrity that costs just a few dollars a year. If a cleaning service doesn’t advertise that it is "liability insured" against accidental property damage, you can conclude that it isn’t and that you are at risk.

2. Are Housekeepers Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ Compensation Insurance against the Risk of Injury on the Job. If housekeepers are not covered by workers' compensation insurance, the cleaning service (maid service) is probably a "referral agency" or other entity with "independent" cleaners rather than true "employees." Like liability insurance, workers’ compensation protection typically costs a cleaning service thousands of dollars a year. It provides both customers and workers with crucial protection in case of injury on the job. Such injuries are not uncommon in housecleaning. Falling on a stairway, slipping on a wet floor, injuring a back, developing carpal-tunnel syndrome — all can and do occur. Cleaning services that assume the risk of job-related injuries and unemployment benefits eliminate the possibility of your becoming liable for hidden but potentially very expensive costs associated with being a "household employer" (see IRS Publication 926 ). Yet in order to avoid the expense of this important protection, many cleaning services place their customers and workers at serious risk.

Housekeeper Training. Then there is the critical matter of proper training. Only cleaning services (maid services) with true "employees" (not "independent" cleaners) can legally provide a training program for their housekeepers.

3. Are Housekeepers Documented Workers in the U.S.?

Housecleaning Professionals. Employers are required to have their employees complete the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form. Be sure that the cleaning service (maid service) you are considering has these forms on file for its employees and that housekeepers working in your home are doing so legally. Subpar staffing "on the cheap" is no substitute for skilled housecleaning professionals.

Buyer Beware! These, then, are three simple yet revealing questions to help you find a reputable cleaning service (maid service) that provides true value for your dollar. Cleaning agencies that fail to pass the above questions may offer a cleaning service with a value much less than that of a quality cleaning service. Yet these same cleaning agencies typically undercut far-superior cleaning services by only a few dollars when attempting to get your business. "A word to the wise is sufficient." Buyer beware!
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