Performing due diligence on potential Helpers

Performing Due Diligence on the Helper you’re thinking about hiring 

When you (the Community Member) are ready to hire a Helper, it is important that you perform adequate due diligence.  At Worktempl, we provide some of the tools and information necessary to help you make an informed decision, but our role is simply to connect Community Members with Helpers. It’s really up to you to make an intelligent, well-informed decision about people you are bringing into your home or interacting with your loved ones.    

Background checks for individuals

Worktempl does not require background checks for Helpers. This is because we are trying to keep the costs minimal for our local Helpers, and also because often we know and trust each other within our small community.   However, we do strongly encourage background checks, especially for certain types of side hustles like anything in the Care Provider work category, for example.  We encourage Helpers to consider paying for and performing a background check through our site during the Sign Up phase, and advise them that it will enhance their profile and chances for getting hired.  We also encourage our Community Members to help support our Helpers by paying for their background check, or sharing the cost, as appropriate.  

At Worktempl, we do not collect social security numbers (SSN) or dates of birth, or store any personal information other than your name, neighborhood, email address, cell phone number, and sometimes payment information.  The Helper may use our third party vendor and enter his or her SSN directly into the third party’s secured site to initiate a background check.  Worktempl does not see or make any determination about the results of the background check.  The exchange of any detailed information about the results of the background check is solely between the Helper and the Community Member with whom it is shared.    

Certifications

Some activities require certifications.  For example, a river guide or a backcountry ski guide in the Tahoe area.  Other activities do not necessarily require a certification, but it might be prudent to only hire a Helper with a certification.  For example, if you’re looking for a babysitter to watch your toddler, then it may be prudent to ensure the babysitter has been trained and certified in CPR.  And then there are lots of activities that most likely do not require any type of certification at all, like shoveling snow on your driveway, picking up pine cones, or stacking wood. Use your judgment and do your research to see what types of certifications are offered or typical for a certain activity.

Licenses 

Experienced Helpers typically possess one or more licenses, bonds, or insurance. A license is a permit from an authority to do, use, or own something.  For example, in California, certain types of contractors are required to obtain a contractor’s license from the Contractors State License Board, or CSLB. Consumers such as yourself may go onto the CSLB website (link: CSLB.ca.gov) and perform a license check on a particular contractor.  You just need to enter the license number, person’s name or business name and you can check to make sure the license is still active.  You probably will not want to hire the contractor if his, her or their license is inactive or suspended due to complaints, etc.

The CSLB website is a great resource for hiring a licensed contractor, and they have ‘10 Tips for Hiring a Licensed Contractor’ on their site.  One of the most important reasons to only hire a licensed and insured contractor is to protect yourself from liability.  If someone gets injured while working on a project at your home or business and does not have insurance, they can sue you for any damages. This doesn’t seem fair, but this is how it works in California at least!

The CSLB website also has the various licensing classifications, e.g., General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, and Specialty Contractor such as Electrical Contractor or Landscaping Contractor.  

Insurance 

It is always a wise idea to ask your contractor/Helper for a copy of their Certificate of Insurance and you will want to ensure the insurance is current and effective.  For larger jobs, you may want to consider asking your contractor/Helper to be named as additional insured or a certificate holder.  You can usually ask your insurance agent to review the Certificate of Insurance if you are unfamiliar with insurance coverages.  Many contractors and professional persons possess one or more types of insurance, for example general liability, umbrella liability, automobile, workers comp, etc.  If you have a relatively large home project then you will want to consider whether the worker or contractor possesses these types of insurance.  

If you’re just hiring a local high school student to rake pine needles in your backyard, then it probably isn’t nearly as important that he or she has these types of things.  

Licensed vs. Unlicensed Contractors

Many unlicensed, uninsured individuals may possess the skills necessary to perform a small plumbing repair, for example.  This individual will likely be much less expensive than a licensed full-service plumbing contractor.  However, if something goes wrong with the seemingly small plumbing fix, then you will not have the insurance protection that you would with a licensed contractor.  These are the types of decisions that you as a homeowner will need to make on a routine basis.  It’s really a cost/benefit decision and an assessment of risk on your part.  

In California, an unlicensed handyman can legally perform the following tasks: fix fences; repair doors; hang and patch drywall; mount televisions; repair appliances; install ceiling fans; and repair fault toilets.  Keep this in mind when Helpers on our Worktempl site indicate that they are a Handyman or Handywoman.  

California Law on Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor

In the State of California, though it is possible to hire an unlicensed contractor in California, you can only hire them for projects that are less than $500, including labor and materials. Therefore, the only work that can legally be completed without a contractor license in California is any project that does not equal or exceed $500.      

Recommendations & Reviews

We include Recommendations of our individual Helpers by other Community Members who have retained their services.  Worktempl does not verify these reviews and cannot vouch for their honesty or accuracy.  However, in our small community, oftentimes you will recognize one or more of the reviewers, or perhaps have a friend who lives in the same town or neighborhood as the Helper.  We encourage you to reach out to that friend or acquaintance to assist with your due diligence on that particular Helper.      

References

You may also wish to ask your Helper to provide references from previous clients.  Be sure to talk to the person on the phone or in person so there is no chance of the Helper impersonating a former client via email or text.  Ask the reference about the Helper's character, communication, responsiveness, reliability, quality of work and whether their initial estimate or proposal was realistic.  

Connecting our Community

At Worktempl, we are simply here to connect our Helpers to our Community Members.  The Helper's profile will always indicate whether he, she or the company maintains a license or certification, or is bonded or insured. The Helper provides and attests to this information, but it is the Helper's responsibility to verify this information.  

The easiest way to do this is to verify online or ask the person or company for their paperwork.