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To hire or not to hire?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mkwl, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. mkwl

    mkwl LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,700

    To hire or not to hire? I have a kid in my History class who has expressed a lot of intrest in working for me on a part time basis for large jobs (mulch, cleanups etc.). I am offering $7.35/hr which he agreed to. My only concern is weather I should hire him since his parent's don't seem to be overly thrilled about him taking the job, and I am a little worried about weather he might hurt himself then sue me. Should I set up a formal contract, if so, what goes into one to prevent being sued? So, to hire or not to hire, what do you think?
  2. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 953

    You're a minor. I'd be more worried for your parents. They're responsible for what you do. Talk to them AND a lawyer.
  3. mkwl

    mkwl LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,700

    Yes, I will probably run this past my Uncle who is a lawyer, and see what he thinks. Anyone else?
  4. Cutting_Edge_Lawns

    Cutting_Edge_Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    Unfortunately, contract or no contract, if he injures himself while employed by you, you will be responsible under Workers Comp laws. An employee is not able to waive this right. You can investigate the requirements for him to be a sub-contractor, however, in most states this means all of the following:
    A) the "subcontractor" does not have to report at a set time, or for a set number of hours
    B) subcontractor can be held responsible for the completed project (quality,etc), but not for how it was completed
    C) subcontractor supplies and uses his own equipment
    Although this releases you from responsibility, it also subjects this individual to a self-employement tax of roughly 15%. I would encourage you to check out the regulations in your state, I hope this helps.
  5. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    Its not worth loosing everything in a possible lawsuit over some extra help, IMO. Even if the kid doesn't sue, his parent may be really upset and sue for everything they can get. just my .02

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    If your concerns are about being sued than that means that you do not carry worker comp. I would say NO do not hire him. Work jobs that you can do yourself till you get out of school. Than if you still want to be in this business, go at it the right way with all the coverage and as a corporation.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I won't say I disagree with what anyone else has said here. All true stuff. I just have a different take on it.....

    You can lead your life worrying about "what if...." or you can just lead your life mitigating risks when possible and accepting that everything has a certain amount of risk. Could he get injured? Sure. I guess he could. But in my experience, in almost 10 years and having had over 100 employees in that 10 years, I've only had 3 injury claims made by employees - and those were all in the landscape construction side of things. Still haven't had any injuries related to just regular maintenance. . So the chance of any given employee getting injured is relatively low to begin with.

    The chance that any given employee getting a MAJOR INJURY - one worth suing you for - is really small. Sure, it could happen. But the chances are really remote.

    So it many cases, I'd say it's worth the risk. But you have a unique situation in being a minor and living at home (I assume you live with your parents still???). So for most people here on Lawnsite, I'd probably say go ahead and hire the kid. If he gets injured badly and sues your ass off, oh well. That's life. You could get hit by a car tomorrow too and be paralized for the rest of your life. But does that keep you from driving? Your mower could throw a rock into some little kid's eye and their parents would sue your ass off. But does that keep you from mowing? No. So we understand that certain risks are just part of life.

    But I digress, your's is a unique situation. If you were 18 or 19 and lived on your own in an appartment, you wouldn't have too much to lose. But in your case, your parents COULD have a lot too lose. And while you may be cool with accepting a certain amount of risk, you probably should NOT pass any risk onto your parents. So if you are going to hire this kid, you're going to have to find a solution that protects your parent's assets or isolates your company. There are several ways to do that.

    One way to protect yourself is to incorporate your business. But that isn't an easy thing to maintain. In order to really be protected, you have to run your corporation as a totally separate entity. Books must be painstakingly kept, detailed annual reports written, no co-mingling of funds, etc. If you make a mistake on any of these things than the prosecuting attorney will "pierce the corporate veil" as they say and find that your corporation wasn't really acting as a corporation anyway. Then you are back to square one and you and parents are liable again. So I realy doubt a 15 year old has what it takes to run a corporation properly. Heck, even I, at age 34 and with 10 years biz experience, have trouble keeping up with the demands of a corporate entity. It ain't easy.

    So there are probably other ways. Worker's comp. insurance would be a great start. That would totally cover almost anything except really major injuries. Worker's comp. does have limits. So if it was a big enough injury (like death) then technically the family could sue you in civil court.

    Even better would be a "umbrella" insurance policy. One that is set up to take care of any injury when worker's comp. stopped. Then you'd be almost totally protected.

    But is all this worth it to you - that's the question. It's not too difficult to get worker's comp. insurance and an umbrella insurance policy. But it's gonna cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Can you recoup that investment? Only you can answer that.
  8. Appalachian landscape

    Appalachian landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    Do people really sue the neighborhood lawn kid? :rolleyes: I think you and little jimmy should be ok.
  9. mkwl

    mkwl LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,700

    I'd hardly call myself a "lawnboy", consitering I have better equipment than a lot of landscapers in my area!
  10. hole in one lco

    hole in one lco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,793

    sad but true without the proper paper work thats what you are. I do foresee problems with this kid and his parents.

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