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Domestic employment (household employees)

Reference: Minnesota Law, §268.035 Subd.20 (18)

Domestic employment includes duties in an employer's household that administer to the personal wants and comforts of the employer and other household members. Domestic employment can be performed in a private home, local college club, or local chapter of a college fraternity or sorority. A private home can be any shelter used as a dwelling, or a room or suite in a hospital, hotel, or nursing home.

Employers of domestic workers must pay state unemployment insurance tax if $1,000 in total gross wages, including the value of room, board, and other advantages, is paid for domestic service in a calendar quarter. Once the quarterly $1,000 liability threshold is met, all covered wages paid for domestic service during that calendar year are reportable.

Domestic service includes duties performed by:

  • Cooks, waiters, and waitresses;
  • Butlers, maids, and housekeepers;
  • Caretakers, gardeners, and handymen;
  • Governesses, babysitters, and nursemaids;
  • Chauffeurs, housemen, footmen, and watchmen;
  • Valets, companions, and grooms; and
  • Laundresses and seamstresses.

Special Situations

Domestic Service Performed by a Relative

Domestic service performed by a relative of an individual who is a domestic employer is covered employment, with the following exceptions:
  • Service performed for an individual by his or her spouse
  • Service performed by a child under the age of 18 for his or her parent or parents
  • Service performed for an individual by his or her parent.

Workers Placed Through Referral or a Placement Agency

Domestic workers referred to jobs through employment placement agencies that neither supervise nor pay them directly are employees of the recipient of the services. However, if the agency is in the business of providing temporary services to clients, the agency is the employer, and the services are considered nondomestic.

Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses

Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who are engaged by hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, government agencies, or commercial businesses generally are nondomestic workers.

Nurses Aides and Patient Helpers

Nurses aides and patient helpers who perform services in a private home are usually performing domestic services. Patient helpers selected by patients who require their services are generally employed by the patient.

Service Performed for a Member of a Religious Order

Service performed in the private home of a member of a religious order is domestic if the worker is employed by the member of the order, or if the funds for the worker's wages are not specifically provided by the church or religious order. Funds provided by the congregation of a church are considered as being provided by the church. If the worker is in the employ of the church or religious order, the service is excluded from coverage for unemployment insurance tax purposes. If the spouse of the member hires and directs the worker, the spouse is the employer.

Service Performed by an Employee of a Landlord

Service performed in and around rental units by an employee of a landlord is not domestic service, unless it is performed in the private residence of the landlord.
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