Last week’s article ended with a question emailed to the Office of Regulatory Assistance. An efficient staff member replied the same day. I asked, “How do I know if our business is already licensed to be an employer and I need to re-file my Business License?” Her answer suggested that I read the ORA guidance on the subject. Of course, it was the ORA guidance that prompted me to ask the question. Sigh . . .

I called the woman at ORA and left a voice mail clarifying my question. She cheerfully called back within two hours and said that if our business was licensed to be an employer, then we would have been filing reports with the Department of Labor & Industries for the past year even though we have no employees. We haven’t been reporting to L&I, so that clears up the question. Re-file it is.

Back to the State of Washington Business Licensing Service web page and halfway through I hit the next roadblock – I can’t complete the Business License process unless we plan to hire within 90 days. Our timeline to hire is early next spring. New business license goes back on the To Do list and on to the first link on the ORA checklist – the Employment Security Department Workforce Explorer website, which offers a link to another website for writing a job description. Shouldn’t be too hard to write a description for a hired hand – someone willing to put his/her hand to any chore that comes up at the ranch. Do I really need another website?

An article in the Capital Press tells me maybe I do. A Yakima area rancher has been sued twice on behalf of three sheepherders who came from South America to work. The rancher won the first suit at the Washington Supreme Court, and now is facing another suit. Lawyers for the sheepherders claim they were asked to perform ranch hand duties outside their job description, like fixing fences, maintaining machinery and general ranch chores. Fixing fences, maintaining machinery and pitching in with chores comes with the territory when taking care of livestock. Writing a defendable job description looks like a necessity.

On to the ESD website. Unfortunately, the ESD job description builder breaks a job down into discrete parts and doesn’t lend itself to the non-specialized and unpredictable environment of family farming and ranching. An hour later, I had a properly filled out form that didn’t really describe what we’re looking for. Another link offered an option to search by job title. A search for “hired hand” turned up a formal description that wasn’t far off, and included a range of wage rates. Another link offered an opportunity to explore wages in more detail by region in the state, but I gave it up after about six clicks. Too Much Information.

I untangled myself from the web and took a deep breath. Creating a job is going to involve not only figuring out the applicable regulations but sorting through a lot of clutter. Clearly I can’t try and squeeze this into bits of time available in between other duties as a small business owner and community volunteer.  Next week I’ll set aside a half day and tackle the job of creating a job as a part-time job in its own right.


[photo credit: Daniel Davies]