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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the last 4 months, I've been on and off working for the owner of a relatively small, local farm. The farm itself isn't doing well, but the owner's partner has a different job that is lucrative, and they live very comfortably. The farm owner is also doing some massive changes to try and get the farm on track, which I've been involved in helping with.

Last week, she told me that she's realized she needs a full time personal assistant and has asked me to do the job. She's also hired some people to help her get the farm aspects on track.

I'd like to get a higher wage, but I've never negotiated salary before. Because it's such a small business, she doesn't take taxes out or give the employer contribution*, so all of the taxes come out of my pocket. I also don't get any benefits like sick leave, parental leave, health insurance, etc.

From what I can tell, it's very reasonable for a personal assistant to ask for $15/hr, and I think it is especially given the no benefits and such. The lowest I'm willing to go is $12, but I'd really rather $15 or higher. I can walk away from this job if I have to, but for various reasons it would be really helpful to have a steady, full time job.

*(Apparently legal. I worked for another small business this summer that did the same thing. I've worked with a start-up and they contributed a very small amount of federal taxes, her accountant said that was all she needed to contribute. I guess it's the state?)
 

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Would you be working for her or for the farm? If the farm is not making a profit, it will be hard to justify 40 hours a week at $15 per hour. That doesn't mean you're not worth the money, but it helps to have an idea of what's even possible before you start negotiating.

It is legal to not pay taxes/social security/unemployment/etc. IF you are a contractor and not an employee. The job you describe sounds like an employee job (set hours, set duties). I recommend researching to find out if what she is proposing is indeed legal. Benefits are just that, benefits, and even if you are an actual employee the company does not have to offer them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response! I'll be working for her. I don't know exactly what's possible, but I know she hires people for similar work for 2-3x more, and I'm not attached to full time it's just what she said. I'm willing to walk away, but I would like to figure out a good way to bring it up. I've never negotiated pay before.

And, yeah, it's probably illegal. But she's been doing it that way with all of her "independent contractors", gotten audited, and it hasn't been a problem. This is the 4th small business I've been employed by that works that way. So it's apparently illegal the same way that marijuana is in Colorado- the federal government says "no" but not loud enough to matter.

I am aware that benefits are optional. But there is a very big difference between $10/hr with medical, retirement, paid sick leave, and paid vacation days and $10/hr as an independent contractor.
 

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It sounds like you've already done half your homework. You know your bottom line from a financial perspective, and when you would walk away from negotiations.

But since everyone has financial needs and constraints to worry about, I think that the better point to discuss with her, when it comes to salary, is what assets you offer the business. Your boss likes you. She wants the job to be yours. That's great! I say, state your price and mention that it is X because you can bring Y skills to the job, and your skills are going to help the farm turn things around (or whatever the benefit might be to her). If she is like most people, she probably dislikes negotiating salary as much as you do. :) hopeful you get what you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My main thoughts are this:

-Initially, I was temporarily helping her out, and the focus was on farm work that I don't have a lot of experience in.

-She's hired someone else to help with the actual physical farm, I need to help her with her personal life/business side/etc. I have a lot more experience in that, and my college experience helps here- farm work I have little experience in.

-In the last view months, I've started doing temporary, freelance personal assistant/organizer/etc work for people for $20/hr, if we'd only just met now I probably wouldn't take this job for much less than that. Which is part of why I'm willing to walk away. But the freelance demands a lot of unpaid work (marketing/etc), so I'm very happy to take a lower rate for a steady position.

I'm not sure whether or not to bring the last one up. When we first talked about me being her personal assistant I told her that I'd need a higher wage, but we didn't work out exactly what. (which I know is a bit silly on my side- but I'm okay if this ends with me having done the work I'm doing right now for $10, and parting ways afterwards)
 

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I'm not sure whether or not to bring the last one up. When we first talked about me being her personal assistant I told her that I'd need a higher wage, but we didn't work out exactly what. (which I know is a bit silly on my side- but I'm okay if this ends with me having done the work I'm doing right now for $10, and parting ways afterwards)
How is it going? I haven't posted because I don't have any advice. I agree that you are definitely worth the higher wages. Without the higher wages and with the obligation to pay all your own taxes, the $10 doesn't even leave you making minimum wage.

None the less, I don't know how to talk about it with her. I find it uncomfortable to ask for things for myself.

Did you have the conversation? How did it go?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My state's minimum wage is $7.25/hr, so it's not quite that bad. But it's still not good. I am frustrated with the number of small businesses around here that pull this- I got a 1099-MISC off of a small store that called me an employee. I was hired as an employee, referred to as one, treated as one, and I still get a 1099-MISC! They also sent it a month and a half late. :|

This one I still don't like, but technically it's under the table. If I were less honest/more willing to subvert the system, I didn't have to report it on my taxes and could've pocketed it all. I am honest and not willing to subvert the system, so I expect to be paid like I am.

I did talk to her. She does want me to do more personal assistant duties, things just lined up badly. One of her regular farmhands has a pretty bad illness so she hasn't been able to work much the last month, it's a very busy season because all the babies are being born, etc. We're getting out of the lambing season and hopefully the other farmhand will be back soon. I'm now making slightly more and we're going to keep up a dialogue about what I'm actually doing and what we each feel it's worth. For now I'm okay with that.
 

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One thing that really helped me with negotiating my salary was that I documented what I've accomplished and showed it to my boss. Often times, they forget all the things that you actually do. Letting them see the documentation can really help you make your case for a pay raise.
 
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