Would you hire someone to clean your house who is already stealing money from you? If you hire someone directly without having them fill out a W4 or W9 tax form, you are most likely participating in the black market.
The black market is a cash economy that enables workers to receive an income without “paying in,” to the system. Our taxes go towards maintaining public education, public health, improving roadways, safety, crime prevention, etc. etc. Most of the house cleaning companies that operate on the black market or individual house cleaners that work privately are stealing from the system, and indirectly stealing from you, the consumer.
What are your alternatives? In California, you have 2 alternatives.
You can hire a traditional maid service. If you hire a maid service, make sure that they have a business license, and they pay workers comp. Business licenses are public record. You can find them through the county clerk online. Most cleaning companies that pay workers comp are going to charge around $50 per hour per house cleaner because workers comp costs them 22-40% of their overall revenue. The laborers normally get paid very low wages and are expected to work full time. This makes their business model unstable because new workers are coming in and out like a revolving door.
Most house cleaning “companies” are operating illegally. They want to avoid paying taxes, workers comp etc. They claim to have a license, bond, insurance, but truthfully, most companies don’t. Since they are not paying in, they can lower their prices, giving them a competitive advantage.
The best option is to use a domestic referral agency. If a domestic referral agency is in compliance with the California Civil Code, they will have the word “maid agency, or referral agency,” written near their logo on their website and other advertising materials. Referral agencies are more affordable. The workers benefit by receiving higher income. Since they are paid better, they will work harder to earn and keep your business. Most important, referral agency run a background check on each worker to first make sure they are legal to work in California and second, to make sure that they have not broken any laws and are safe to send you your home. Aloha Maids is a domestic referral agency.