Is a Dog Walker a Household Employee?

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One dilemma that may arise when employing someone to care for your dogs is whether a dog walker is considered a home employee. The nature of the labor, the connection between the dog walker and the homeowner, and the laws of the state in which the service is performed all influence the answer to this issue. In this blog article, we will go further into the subject and provide some ideas that may be useful to both homeowners and dog walkers.

While Scout is not a law firm and does not give legal advice, we may be able to give you some idea on whether hiring a dog walker is considered a household employee or not. It is best to consult with a lawyer regarding specific worker classification difficulties. The classification of workers varies based on the government agency and state. This article is meant to help pet sitters and dog walkers understand the general differences between Independent Contractors and Employees and to lead them in the appropriate direction for more information.

The Great Disagreement

The Big Independent Contractor vs. Employee argument is one of the most popular issues we hear our clients debating. Several Pet Sitting or Dog Walking businesses have traditionally used Independent Contractors (or ICs) rather than employees. "Why," you ask. The solution is straightforward. Utilizing integrated circuits is thought to be less costly, and in certain cases, it very definitely can be. Having workers necessitates the payment of state and federal unemployment taxes, social security taxes, and workers' compensation/disability premiums by the employer (you). You are not obligated to pay these fees if your company utilizes ICs. Isn't it fantastic? That is, except that you do not have the right to refer to a worker as an Independent Contractor. To be classified as Independent Contractors, your employees must fulfill certain criteria. That may be perplexing, and many dog-walking and pet-sitting businesses may be misclassifying their employees right now.

A Household Employee's Role

Before we get into whether a dog walker is considered a home employee, it's vital to define the term. A household employee is someone who works in or around your home and is under your authority, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Those who offer childcare, eldercare, cleaning services, or any other form of domestic employment fall under this category.

A dog walker might be deemed a home employee under this definition if they match the IRS qualifications. Yet, it is not always simple, and there are other aspects to consider. To begin, the IRS requires that a company be run with the aim of producing a profit. This implies that the company must have a well-defined plan and strategy for making money, as well as the required resources and staff to carry it out.

The Work Environment

The type of labor performed by a dog walker is an important component in evaluating if they are a home employee. In general, a dog walker may be regarded as a household employee if he or she performs a regular job for the homeowner, such as walking the dog every day, and the homeowner has influence over how the work is done.

However, if the dog walker is just providing a one-time service, such as pet-sitting while the homeowner is away, and the homeowner has no influence over how the job is done, the dog walker may not be deemed a household employee. This is due to the fact that household workers are often defined as people who are engaged by a family or household to offer services in the home, such as housework, childcare, or cooking. Dog walking, although a service, is not often regarded to be a regular home service. Nonetheless, it is becoming more popular in today's culture as pet owners seek new methods to offer their cherished animals the exercise and companionship they need.

The Relationships of the Parties

Another element to consider is the homeowner's connection with the dog walker. The dog walker may be deemed a household employee if the homeowner hired the dog walker directly and has influence over how the job is done. However, if the dog walker is hired by a pet-sitting or dog-walking firm and the homeowner has no influence over the worker's behavior, the worker is not a homeowner's household employee, but rather an employee of the company.

Your State's Laws

Your state's legislation may also play a factor in establishing whether a dog walker is a home employee. Several states have particular legislation defining what defines a home employee and how they should be taxed. If you are unclear if a dog walker is considered a household employee in your state, it's vital to speak with an attorney or tax specialist who is knowledgeable about the rules in your region. After all, rules range widely across states and municipalities, and even little variances might have a significant influence on your financial status. Whatever choice you make will have legal and financial ramifications, which an expert attorney or tax specialist can help you understand. They may provide you insight into the prospective outcomes of your actions, as well as the implications of those decisions. They may also advise you on the best course of action to pursue and assist you in understanding the tax consequences of your choices.

Implications of Being a Household Employee

If a dog walker is classified as a household employee, this has consequences for both the homeowner and the worker. It is possible that the homeowner may be compelled to withhold and pay payroll taxes, provide workers' compensation insurance, and follow other labor rules. In contrast, the worker may be entitled to certain benefits such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and sick leave.

It's crucial to remember that not all dog walkers are considered home workers; it all comes down to the specifics of the employment arrangement. If you are unclear if a dog walker is a home employee, contact a legal or tax specialist to confirm that you are in compliance with all relevant rules and regulations.


To summarize, whether a dog walker is a home employee is determined by the nature of the activity, the connection between the parties, and state legislation. Although there are certain repercussions for both the homeowner and the worker if the dog walker is deemed a domestic employee, it's critical that you follow all relevant rules and regulations to prevent any legal or financial penalties.

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