I have a question of personal relevance. My husband and I had previously made a decision that, as an act of charity, we should hire on anyone who stops by our home offering to do odd jobs for the day. We live on a corner lot, where we get lots of local neighborhood traffic, and consequently, we get lots of men stopping by offering to cut our lawn, rake our leaves, trim our trees, clean our gutters or roof, power wash our siding. You name it; we have had people stop by to offer to do it. With the downturn in our economy or the past five years, there is a lot more of this than ever before. A lot of hungry and poor men looking for work wherever they can find it. So my husband suggested, as a general family rule, if we have the cash to pay them immediately, then we say yes to whatever they would like to do for pay.
Well, recently, I was informed that hiring people to do odd jobs, inside or outside the house, is a practice that is generally frowned upon, partly because it leaves us legally and financially liable if someone were to get hurt, and partly because we are paying them “under the table” so to speak, since we insist on paying only in cash. Apparently, if we hire someone to do a job, we are required, as employers, to pay payroll taxes and Social Security, and turn in tax forms. If we are not doing these things, we might be acting illegally. Also, if someone WERE to unfortunately become injured, they would be forced to sue me in order to cover their medical bills. I do not have the savings to pay for someone’s medical bills, and they would have to sue to get my homeowner’s insurance to pay. And in the end, I might still be financially liable, if my insurance refuses to pay or if it won’t cover everything.
So now I am torn. We have some regulars who stop by, hoping to be able to earn some money ($20-$100 for a day’s work), and they are so obviously in need. They are so appreciative of being given honest work to do, and they do a great job. But now with these concerns, am I just supposed to turn them away? One man literally rides his bike to my house from God only knows where, to ask if he can be hired for the day. He does this while carrying his rake with him on his bike. He is elderly and infirm. He always asks for a glass of lemonade or a Coke or cup of hot tea, depending on the weather. I cannot bear the thought of having to turn him, or anyone else like him, away, but I do not want to be acting inappropriately.
So what say you? What is the right thing to do, considering the issues I have mentioned here? Also, if there are even more considerations I have not mentioned, please make me aware of them, too.