Erik Johnson , Editor, Care.com HomePay
How they differ from microschools and what families need to know before hiring a care worker.
COVID-19 continues to challenge parents on ways to fulfill their child care needs. With day care closures and fall school openings in question, some parents are considering private, shared care solutions with a small group of families to fill the gap. Known as remote learning pods, pandemic pods or microschools, these options have been relatively uncommon over the years, so many families are wondering how to set them up correctly. The good news is that we’re on top of the tax, payroll and compliance requirements and can help answer a lot of the questions you may have.
What are learning pods and pandemic pods?In simplistic terms, these setups are similar to a nanny share in that a group of families with similar care needs come together to hire a trained caregiver. Where there is some uniqueness now is that the person being hired in a learning pod has the skill set you’d expect from a day care or child learning center worker. This is a little different from hiring a nanny because more of the focus is on education for young children.
In fact, someone hired for a learning pod may be familiar with the common curriculum that your local day cares adhere to and will work that into the daily schedule you and the other families in the group come up with. Care and instruction can be provided in just one family’s home, or it can rotate, depending on the agreement the families come up with.
What if my kids are older and I’m looking for group teaching and instruction?
Many parents are referring to this setup as a microschool, but the idea is similar to a learning pod because they’re looking for a way to have a trained educator come to their home to teach a group of children. The difference with this setup is that the instructor is generally a teacher or tutor and provides their own curriculum that most likely mirrors what is taught at your child’s school. Parents don’t have nearly as much input on how learning and instruction is handled, which is why many of these instructors will charge a tuition rate like you’d see at a private school or day care.
How do I know if the caregiver or instructor hired for group care or teaching is my employee?Like other caregiving scenarios, this is dependent on who is in control of the details of the working relationship. If the families in a learning pod or care share come together to agree on a set of tasks they want the caregiver to perform, and are dictating the hours the caregiver works and the days in which they work, the caregiver will most likely be an employee of each family, according to the IRS. This is true for both caregivers working full time with younger children, as well as someone providing part-time group tutoring to school-aged kids.
How can I tell if the group learning instructor I want to hire is self-employed?Usually someone that is an independent contractor has gone through the process of setting up a business. You and the other parents typically will have to work around their availability, and they will provide the curriculum and daily schedule the kids will follow without much additional input. If the person has to miss a day of instruction, they will provide a suitable substitute. All families in your learning group will pay the person the rate they request and they will take care of providing everything the children need for care and learning.
Read more about the differences between employees and self-employed independent contractors.
What if I still can’t figure out if the person is my employee or an independent contractor?If the person your group is hiring is in a gray area somewhere between both of these scenarios, the conservative approach would be to treat them as your employee. The reason being is because independent contractors should only receive payment for the job they perform, whereas employees often receive other benefits like paid time off and sick days.
If you’re providing these additional benefits, but treating the person as an independent contractor, there is potential risk if the caregiver or instructor files a wage dispute. When the state reviews the claim, they will wonder why benefits that are meant for employees were given to someone not classified as such. However, treating the person as an employee from the start doesn’t carry additional risk to you or the other families involved.
How do I manage taxes and payroll for a group caregiver that is considered my employee?Assuming the caregiver meets the definition of a household employee, each family will evenly split the cost of hiring them. For example, if there are four families in your remote learning pod and you agree to pay the caregiver a total of $2,000 per week, each family would be responsible for $500 in gross wages and would need to withhold the appropriate taxes from this amount each week. Each family will also need to register as a household employer with the IRS and the state so they can file tax returns throughout the year and send in the taxes withheld from the caregiver and the taxes owed as a household employer.
Can HomePay help me with tax and payroll requirements of my learning pod?Yes, we are equipped to manage all the federal and state tax and payroll requirements on your behalf. And by utilizing our service to pay your caregiver legally, you’ll be able to qualify for tax breaks to reduce the cost of hiring them. In fact, many families in a nanny share or learning pod will save more money in tax breaks than they will owe in household employment taxes. Just reach out to us and we’ll be happy to crunch the numbers for you to give you a detailed budget.
At the end of the day, we’re all trying our hardest to do what’s best for our children. If a group care situation is the most efficient, cost-effective way for you to have quality education for your kids while achieving an appropriate amount of work-life balance, we’d love to work with you to take the administrative tasks of managing a caregiver off your plate.
Article location: https://www.care.com/homepay/setting-up-a-learning-pod-for-fall-child-care-needs-may-have-tax-requirements-20200724104514
By Tiffany Irene Coulibaly
Illustrations by Maria Baldares
For being a parent is a forever job that never ends and never stops.
Every day all day underneath the sun...
my little broke best friend is always searching for fun.
From Chuckie Cheese to Lego Land down to Myrtle Beach so he can play in the sand.
“Take me here mommy, take me there no time to sit, no time to stare.”
How much is this? He never knows. He looks at me, ok I suppose.
So demanding, this is true...
My little broke best friend what more do you want to do?
Full version of the book available in Spring 2021.
By: Alexandra Koehn
Posted at 5:12 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 10:03 PM, Jul 14, 2020
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A single mom with 3 children is unsure how she’s going to implement Metro’s virtual school plan. With a 3rd grader, a 5-year-old, and a 4-year-old, Rachel Welty has her hands full. She’s an attorney, and single mom, as her ex-husband is deployed. “I have a nanny for them currently, she’s 19, she’s great, but I also don’t know if the crux of schooling them needs to be put on her either.”Due to the pandemic, Metro Nashville Public Schools will start the school year virtually. “I totally understand that it’s potentially dangerous for kids to go to school, it’s also an impossible situation for a working parent.”
Rachel is talking to other Sylvan Park Elementary parents to figure out what to do if they don’t work from home.
“I’m getting together with another momma today, and we’re visiting a church around the corner that has a building that isn’t used any day other than Sunday," Welty said, "And even in that there’s the opening of the bubble, and that’s really scary.” Joining students together defeats the purpose of social distancing, but it may be her only option.According to an MNPS spokesperson, guardians who can't work from home can look into daycare, and they’re working with those facilities on the virtual learning plan. Metro Schools posted other suggestions to their website too. One of them includes a babysitting co-op.
“I luckily can afford to have childcare, but I don’t know what a mom in my situation who makes $10 an hour or $12 an hour, I don’t know how she does that,” Welty said.
The state has funding for childcare for low income families and essential workers, but Welty said many places are full. Some parents are planning to bring their kids to gymnastic centers to do virtual school.
“It’s going to cause a lot of problems for people.”Rachel will continue looking for a better solution for her family. “It’s frustrating that we don’t have more community support.”
More information on the state’s childcare payment assistance program here.