In the Trenches: The Difficult Process of Hiring

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Last week I mentioned that I had a plan for avoiding burn-out. The plan seemed simple; I was going to shift my time around somewhat, but the centerpiece was to hire a part-time admin to help take some work off my plate. Only one problem. Hiring someone is one of the most difficult things on the planet. Now I find myself looking for alternatives.

There's been so much lip service paid by politicians to job creation that you would think my effort to create a part-time job would be welcomed. Instead, complex regulations have me curled up on the floor in the fetal position wondering if it's even worth it. That's a shame. No, that's just insane. This shouldn't be so hard, but it is.

The easy way to "hire" someone is to bring them on as an independent contractor. That works for a lot of jobs, but for an admin that would have set work hours, that's probably not going to pass as legal. And I'm one of those law-abiding types of people, for better or worse. This is a job that seems to require hiring someone as an employee.

I had heard that it wasn't the easiest thing to do, so I reached out to my grad school network and received a blizzard of responses from people on what to do. The responses made the situation even more overwhelming. There were things I hadn't thought of. Do you offer benefits, vacation, sick leave, holidays...? The list goes on and on. The answer to most of those is "no" for a part-time job like mine, but those decisions were the easy ones.

More importantly, there are tax considerations. You don't pay tax for independent contractors, but for employees there's a payroll tax. (You know, it's the Medicare and Social Security stuff.) Oh yeah, and you have to pay into unemployment as well.

I would also have to get workers compensation insurance, among other policies. Then I was told I would need to put together a comprehensive employee handbook and I'd have to make sure my offer letter was reviewed by a lawyer to make sure that I had structured it properly in case problems arose later on. Many people I spoke to mentioned how difficult it can be to actually fire someone once they're hired, and that was a big frustration for those who were stuck with poor workers.

The dizzying volume of information told me I couldn't go it alone. I had to get help, and there are a few options for doing just that. I'll talk more about those next week.