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With school starting online in a few weeks, parents are trying to figure out what options they have to set up their children for success. We are so fortunate to have Attorney Lisa Pierson Weinberger as our consultant for all things Covid-19. Here she helps us navigate some of the most frequently asked questions that we are getting from parents right now about private educators and learning pods.
1. Are you creating COVID waivers for families and private educators?
If a family employs a private educator, that person is their employee. As a matter of public policy, employers cannot ask employees to waive their right to a safe work environment. For this reason, employment waivers are not enforceable. However, I do recommend that families create a COVID-related protocol with their domestic employees (including private educators) that is included in an employment agreement.
2. Are you open to working with families who are creating pods of 4-5 kids?
Yes. The largest pods that I’ve worked with to date have included four children.
3. HomePay advised these pods are okay to do as long as everyone makes the educator a W2 employee of the household. People would like to know how to correctly set up the pods for employment purposes.
I agree with HomePay that private educators will almost certainly be properly classified as employees (and not independent contractors). Employers must also ensure that they are complying with all federal, state, and local employment-related laws, which is why having a robust employment agreement is essential.
4. Anything else you would like to add?
It can be tempting to take advice from friends and google, but every situation is different, and it’s really important for families to get advice from a professional about their particular circumstances. This is not a plug for my services but is really just a reminder that, even though things feel heightened right now and everyone wants to have this problem solved (to the extent possible), the right approach (or document) for one family does not always translate to what is best for someone else. As a working mom, I completely understand how stressful this is, and don’t want anyone’s stress to be multiplied by rushing into a situation without thinking through all of the proper considerations.
Are you ready to hire a private educator to support your family? We are happy to answer any of your questions and hold your hand through this process. We know it can be overwhelming, but we also know YOU CAN DO THIS! Please visit Hire a Private Educator or call 310-857-4985 to learn more.
Back to school? Typically when writing about this topic, we get excited and end our sentence with an exclamation point! Today, we have chosen to end it with a question mark. With the uncertainties of traditional schooling during Covid-19, complicated social distancing school rules put into place, as well as the confusion many parents are feeling as no school plans have been officially announced, parents are being forced to make tough decisions. While the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging schools to open in the fall with in-person learning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising remote learning as the safest option. Schools are creating hybrid schedules of days in school and days distance learning and parents are scrambling to figure out childcare and educational support.
Below are some of the phone calls we received from parents:
How on earth is this schedule going to work with two parents who work?
I am a single mom who has to work to support my family. How am I supposed to work and help my child learn?
I am a teacher. I don’t want to go back to school because I am afraid of getting Coronavirus, but I have to so I need someone to teach my daughter.
I am NOT a teacher. I cannot do this. Are you kidding? My child doesn’t listen to me. He won’t even sit still for me for two seconds!
My child refuses to Zoom. She only connects with people in-person. I need a teacher to come to our home.
We saw a problem and created a solution. Hire a private educator! Since 2015, Educated Nannies has been placing private educators in households, but we typically only receive a handful of requests each year. Hiring a private educator was a popular choice for parents of actors or musicians on tour, or families who like to travel and have bi-coastal homes. This option has now become a common request amongst parents who are searching for personalized education, safety, continuity, and flexibility. Here are the top five benefits of hiring a private educator during Covid-19.
IT’S SAFE AND CHILDREN WON’T HAVE TO WEAR A MASK.
By hiring a private educator, the family is able to limit the amount of germ exposure a child comes into contact with. The home becomes a controlled environment minimizing the risk of coming into contact with Covid-19. Children are able to be free and not have to wear masks in their own homes. They are not exposed to poor air circulation and parents will not have to worry about daily potential exposure to this virus. They will be able to play with any toys of their choosing and read any books that transform their imagination into a world of wonder. Children can even wear pajamas or costumes while learning! Let’s be honest. Raise your hand if you are currently in pajamas or athleisure reading this?
CURRICULUM OF YOUR CHOICE
When hiring a private educator to homeschool children, parents will be able to create a flexible educational plan. They get to choose a personalized curriculum as well as devote time to individual learning styles. While one child may be a kinesthetic learner another child might be an auditory processor. A private educator can create stimulating activities for both children to thrive. Parents can collaborate with private educators to have child-lead learning. For example, if a child is interested in coins, the private educators can teach about presidents, banking, The U.S. Mint, history, money, sorting, jewelry, metals, collecting, good luck pennies, create crafts and read books about coins. Children are more inclined to learn if a topic inspires them. Making up stories about the topic always sparks the imagination. There are also opportunities for children to learn about other topics in life such as racial diversity and inclusion, and financial literacy. Children get to learn at their own pace, and they are less inclined to be bored. A private educator can support children who are accelerated learners and those who need accommodations to excel. Plus you can take healthy snack breaks, go on scavenger hunts, tell Alexa, “Play Hamilton!” and have dance parties throughout the day! Oh, and the kids can too.
At some point, we may go on lockdown again. We may be asked to comply with the Safer at Home mandate. Parents may be asked to pay full tuition for schools and their children may not get the attention they deserve. The school may get shut down completely when someone tests positive for Covid-19. Emotional stability is the goal! Hiring a private educator means the children will understand their boundaries and expectations in the comfort of their own homes. Private Educators can also live in the home. This is a wonderful option for families who have a guest house or an extra bedroom and bathroom in the home, and the private educator is comfortable helping with nanny duties. Children will have continuity in their lives and be cared for by one person who gives them undivided attention. They will not have to deal with the uncertainty of their choices and live in fear or a constant reminder of the “yucky germy.” That’s what my kids call it anyways. Wash your hands do-do-do-do-do-do.
OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL AND HAVE A FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE
Some families are fortunate to have dual residences and it’s nice to know that a private educator is available to educate their children in different locations! For example, if COVID cases are on the rise in Los Angeles, a family may decide to relocate to their home in Wyoming. They may decide to go on a spontaneous family road trip for 3 weeks in a Subaru with two kids and a dog and visit all of the places on their United States bucket list. Oh, was that just me? Imagine the conversations that were sparked from visiting Mount Rushmore. There is so much to unpack there! The best news is families do not have to conform to one schedule. They can choose to educate their children for short days, longer days, weekdays, weekends, and in a variety of locations. They get to incorporate these incredible life experiences and languages into their child’s education. A private educator can help plan out day trips and create fun lesson plans to enhance the experience. The children can journal, and create a photo book filled with memories that will last a lifetime.
When children are homeschooled with a private educator they have the opportunity to create pods or micro-schools with peers who inspire them or treat them with kindness. Families are able to form mini-villages and children are seeing the benefits of quality time as well as being embraced with unconditional love. Private educators can also focus on character building and social skills. The children get the choice of who they would like to invite into their backyard and there is less pressure to fit in. It’s unfortunate, but many children will face bullying online and in public places throughout their life. Children who experience bullying typically struggle with depression later in life. When a child develops a healthy sense of worth and identity, they establish resiliency. Let’s create a generation of kids who are mindful, kind, self-sufficient, and problem solvers!! Alright… It’s midnight and this mama needs to get bed before one of my children climbs into my bed or wakes me up because they peed the bed. Ahhh night potty training…….
Are you ready to hire a private educator? We are happy to answer any of your questions and hold your hand through this process. We know it can be overwhelming, but we also know YOU CAN DO THIS! Please visit Hire a Private Educator or call 310-857-4985 to learn more.
Welcome to COVID-19 summer. With schools remaining closed for unknown periods of time, and summer camps being canceled, many families are searching for options to help bridge their child care gap during COVID-19. As with hiring any household employee, and especially on a short-term basis, families tend to get overwhelmed with the unknown. Here we team up with HomePay to help you figure out how to properly classify a temporary nanny and pay them legally.
Is a temporary caregiver an employee or an independent contractor?
When a family hires a caregiver – either on a short or long-term basis – an employment relationship exists. The determination is based on the nature of the work being performed, and the IRS has ruled definitively that caregivers working in a family’s home are employees of the family – not independent contractors. However, if you pay your household employee less than $2,200 in a calendar year, you qualify for an exemption from the tax withholding and reporting requirements. Keep in mind that federal and state labor laws still apply in all employment situations.
What are the tax and labor law requirements for household employers?
The requirements vary by state. Our partners at HomePay have a detailed tax and labor law compliance checklist that you can access on their website.
What happens if I don’t comply?
Now more than ever, it is critical that families comply with their employer obligations when hiring a caregiver or other household worker. Failure to do so will result in issues if the employee needs to access important financial safety nets, such as unemployment insurance, in the future. Additionally, if the wages are paid under-the-table, the family will not be able to take advantage of tax breaks.
How much does it cost to comply with household employment tax and payroll laws?
Household employment compliance obligations can feel overwhelming for busy families. The good news is paying legally is not as difficult or expensive as it seems. HomePay handles all the compliance details and there are tax breaks that typically offset most of the employer costs – especially in short-term employment situations. Here is a sample budget scenario we put together for a family considering the option of hiring a nanny to provide care from May through September:
Nanny Gross Pay $9,600.00
Employer Taxes $1,021.40
Cost Before Tax Breaks $10, 621.40
Tax Breaks $-2,200.00
Employer Cost After Tax Breaks $8,421.40
For an estimate of your tax costs – and your tax breaks – you can use HomePay’s free Employer Budget Calculator or contact them to run a specific budget scenario for your family.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! Teachers are magic. We know how hard they work throughout the year, and during this pandemic, they are having to get super creative with ways to teach. Between Zoom sessions, drive-bys, and sending sweet messages, teachers everywhere are working like never before to educate a generation of students who are making history. How do we show our love and appreciation to our teachers while social distancing during Covid-19? We came up with a few ideas to say “Thank you!” for every single ounce of energy, kindness, and encouragement they give to our children.
Organize a drive-by gratitude parade with fellow parents! Drive-by hellos are becoming a safe way to show you care! Making sweet homemade posters and banners that show your appreciation, along with beautifying the car with decorations and balloons. Perhaps you can also play your favorite song that a teacher has played for you in class while you drive by. Make it special!
Using technology can be the safest and easiest way to celebrate your teacher! Make teachers a “Thank you” photo or video to convey messages of appreciation. You can color and draw your own signs and cards, make chalk art, a photo booth or a photo collage, or video of your little one! Email or tag your special teacher on social media for all to see. This is sure to bring a smile to their face!
A movie night from the comfort of their own home! Many companies such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon offer digital gift cards that are redeemable through their app that teachers can use through their accounts. Pretty awesome!
Restaurant and retail gift cards! Treat teachers to a delicious meal or a much-needed shopping spree while helping local and small businesses at the same time. Many restaurants and retail stores are celebrating and recognizing teachers this week with discounts and free items too!
All local and statewide participants can be found here: https://www.wral.com/teacher-appreciation-week-offers-2020/19083800/
Create or send your own treat basket or box that contains all their favorite things! You can customize these baskets/boxes with school and teaching supplies, snacks, coffee, gift cards, etc! Many companies such as Harry & David, The Fruit Company, and GiftTree are offering discounted baskets during the pandemic. Here is one of our favorite boxes from Etsy: Spa Gift Box
Send Flowers! We love our friends at https://lapetitegardenia.com/ who create the most gorgeous floral arrangements. If you are local to Los Angeles, Alison will take great care of you and your teachers.
Thank you for patiently waiting while we navigate the development of COVID-19. We know this is a very overwhelming time for many of you and we are committed to providing you with the resources that become available to us.
Here is the latest information provided by Attorney Lisa Pierson Weinberger.
EXECUTIVE ORDERS TO STAY HOME. WHO IS IMPACTED? CAN MY NANNY STILL COME TO WORK?
Within the last week, there have been many orders issued in cities and counties throughout California requiring residents to “stay at home” and/or “shelter in place” for certain periods of time. On Thursday, March 19th, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order impacting all of California, which has been put in place indefinitely.
All of these orders have been put into place to protect the public health. However, they are all different. For example, in Los Angeles, employers and employees are governed by three different legal mandates: Governor Newsom’s Order for all of California, Mayor Garcetti’s Order for the City of Los Angeles, as well as the Order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Residents in other jurisdictions, such as in the Bay Area and Orange County, are also governed by multiple orders. Because the restrictions in the various orders are different but govern the same constituency, employers and employees are struggling to understand which order to follow when the rules conflict.
To answer that question, the State of California has created a website to provide further guidance as to what it means to “stay home except for essential needs.” With respect to how the statewide order interacts with local orders, it provides as follows:
This is a statewide order. Depending on the conditions in their area, local officials may enforce stricter public health orders. But they may not loosen the state’s order.
As such, people should first see if they are considered essential workers under the state order. A list of exempt sectors can be found here. If a worker is permitted to work under the state order, they should then consult any applicable orders to see if they are also permitted to work under those.
Now for the most important question: with conflicts between the orders, how do I know if my nanny can continue to come to work? The California website provides that “babysitters may…come to the house to care for minors of parents working in essential sectors.” So, if an individual is considered an essential worker, that person’s nanny can still report to work.
PASSAGE OF THE FINAL FEDERAL BILL REGARDING COVID-19 RELIEF
A few days ago, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) was passed, which includes mandatory Paid Sick Leave and an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Unless the Secretary of Labor acts to exempt certain employers with fewer than 50 employees (which may still happen), as of April 2nd, all employers will be required to provide the following to their employees:
Paid Sick Leave
Employers must provide employees with the equivalent of two weeks of emergency paid sick leave benefits to be used for any of the following Coronavirus-related absences:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order for Coronavirus;
- The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to Coronavirus concerns;
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for an individual who is under a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised to self-quarantine;
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or child care has been closed due to Coronavirus;
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Employees using paid sick leave for purposes (1) – (3) above must be paid their “regular rate of pay” (as defined for purposes of calculating overtime compensation), subject to a cap of $511/day and/or $5,110 in the aggregate. Employees using leave for reasons (4)-(6) must be paid 2/3 of these amounts, subject to a cap of $200 per day and/or $2,000 in the aggregate.
The Department of Labor will be publishing a notice of this new paid sick leave, which employers are required to post in a conspicuous place in the workplace.
Please note that this leave is in addition to the required California state (and, in some places, local) sick leave policies. For any sick leave provided under this law on or after April 2nd, employers will receive a 100% payroll tax credit for the amounts paid.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) has been temporarily expanded to provide up to 12 weeks of protected time off for any employee (who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days) who is unable to work or telework due to the need to care for a child under 18 if the child’s school or child care is closed, or if the child care provider is unavailable, due to Coronavirus-related concerns.
If an employee requests such a leave, the first two weeks can be taken on an unpaid basis. After that, the employer must provide paid leave of at least 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay, with a cap of $200/day and $10,000 aggregate. These payments (up to the caps) will be credited at 100% on the employer’s quarterly payroll taxes.
FURLOUGH AND FINAL PAY OBLIGATIONS
The California Labor Commissioner has previously published Opinion Letters requiring employers to provide final pay (including payment of accrued but unused vacation time) if an employee is furloughed for an indefinite period of time. In this moment of extreme financial uncertainty, many employers will be considering how to sustain their businesses and will be considering whether it is prudent to reduce employee hours, furlough employees, or lay them off. If employers choose to furlough employees, they should be aware of these final pay obligations so as not to trigger waiting time penalties.
We are here to support our families and nannies during this unprecedented time and will be working remotely to answer any questions you may have.
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