On top of everything happening in the world and in your life—between work, health and safety and your kids’ education and socialization—the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’re accidentally running afoul of childcare laws, your homeowners insurance policy or the IRS.
While no one is going to accuse you of running a Montessori sweatshop, protecting yourself from lawsuits, audits, and potential complaints from neighbors (let’s face it, we all have that neighbor), is key to peace of mind. Let’s talk through some key factors you should be aware of, so that you can rest easy knowing your pod is legally safe and stress-free.
Is your learning pod setup legal?
There are a few things to consider when looking at the legality of your microschool. Among them are the statutes in place in your state regarding things like:
- Parental presence
- Child Care License exemption requirements
Parental Presence During Micro-School Time
In a cooperative childcare environment in California, for example, regardless of whether there is a teacher on site, one parent or legal guardian must also be present and responsible at all times, and the responsibilities shared equally among participants. Communicate with your pod about who the responsible parent will be on each learning day, and make sure that you’re following the regulations laid out by your state. You also have to be very careful about how money changes hands. If it appears that any of the parents or guardians is profiting from the arrangement, a license is likely required.
Learning Pod Child Care License Exemptions
When it comes to licensing requirements, if you’re not operating as a cooperative childcare arrangement, a license will most likely be required.
For instance in California, if you are providing care for only your children, and those from one other family, you are exempt from needing a license. If you are caring for children from multiple families in your residence, or in a non-residential facility for periods of less than 24 hrs., however, then a license will likely be necessary.
Staying on the right side of the law when it comes to licensing is important should you run into a situation where you need to defend your learning pod’s legitimacy. Take the time to understand your state’s rules and requirements, so you can be sure that no matter what complications arise, you’re knowledgeable and equipped to handle them!
Are You Paying Your Pod Teacher Legally?
According to California state law, your teacher is your employee if you control what work is done, where, when and/or how it’s done.
It doesn’t matter whether the work is temporary, full-time, part-time, or that you hired the person through an agency. Unless they are employed by a service business like a nanny company, a tutoring service or teacher service like PodSkool, if you control the work they perform, how, when and/or where they perform it, then your pod teacher is your employee.
As such, there are a host of things that you need to oversee in their payment process as an employer in order to ensure that it’s legal. Here are some of the main responsibilities you face:
- Registering with the State of California to receive an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
- Asking your teacher to fill out a W2 form and provide proof of eligibility to work in the U.S.
- Filing Payroll Taxes quarterly
- Providing Workers Compensation coverage (Although it would only be used in the event that your teacher is hurt on the job, it is still required by CA law.)
Though taking shortcuts in the payment process may seem like a timesaver, following state laws and making sure your payroll is 100% legal protects both you and your employee in the long term. The list above includes a lot of important things to keep in mind as an employer, but we always recommend consulting your personal accountant or attorney to ensure that you are fully covered.
Is Your Pod School Properly Insured?
Accidents happen and people (especially little ones) can get hurt. While liability insurance is optional, it’s something that we strongly recommend! Whether you’re hosting microschool at your home or at a non-residential location, protecting yourself, your space, and the people in it should be a top priority.
Every homeowner/renter’s insurance policy is different, and you should know the exact parameters of yours. In some cases, you may be violating your insurance agreement by hosting childcare at your home, and it could result in being dropped by your provider. Call your broker or look into your policy to ensure that you aren’t violating it’s terms.
Additionally, while your home’s insurance may legally allow for you to host childcare, if your teacher, one of the children, or even a parent of one of the children gets injured on your property or causes damage, it’s likely that your homeowner’s insurance will not cover the medical costs or damages. Things can become increasingly challenging if your learning pod rotates the location of activities, as each location needs to be covered.
Take the time to consider potential complications within your individual pod’s setup, and make your liability insurance choices accordingly. We always encourage you to think in the long term and err on the side of caution by budgeting in for the proper legal protection of your assets, your pod location and the people involved.
As always, we’re here to help. If any of these legal situations start to feel overwhelming, check out our free Guide To Finding A Teacher For Your Pod, or sit back and let us take over the tough stuff—we get it. We’re parents too. That’s why we created PodSkool.