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A Complete New Hire Paperwork Checklist for 2021

Congratulations! You’ve found the right fit for your job opening, and your new hire is getting ready to start work with your company. Before you acquaint them with their new workspace and off to their first training, it’s important to get all their paperwork in order. From payroll to policy, here are the new hire forms to know about for a successful onboarding process.

Form I-9

The government wants to be sure that any person you hire is eligible to work in the United States, and the I-9 form takes care of that by serving as employment eligibility verification documentation. Both the employee and employer sections must be filled out. The employee portion, which includes social security number or tax identification number, must be completed before they start their first day on the job.

The employee must also provide physical documentation of their eligibility to work, with the I-9 form instructions offering examples of what you can accept and not accept. Once you’ve looked over their documents and verify their accuracy, you must fill out the employer portion. 

All of this must occur within three days after they start work. While you don’t send it in anywhere, you must keep it on hand. Failure to fill this out can cause major legal problems for your business, as well as hefty fines.

You will also likely want to verify the information given to you through the E-Verify system, which is a common tool for larger employers. It will cross-match information on the I-9 to data available in federal databases and can offer another mode of protection for you.

Keep I-9s for all of your employees for a minimum of three years after they start working, or at least one year after they leave.

W-4

Before an employee receives their first paycheck, you’ll need to know how much to withhold for federal taxes. The W-4 form will tell you this, so be sure to have the employee fill it out right away. To be compliant with the IRS, you must keep the form on file for four years after the employment tax for that period is paid or due (whichever is later).

Remember to update this form each year. Also, prompt your employees to fill out a new one when they go through major life changes that may affect federal income tax withholding, such as getting married or having a baby.

State new hire tax forms

If your state collects income tax, your employee must fill out one of the state tax withholding forms, too. Check with your state revenue office or department of labor for applicable state tax filing forms and policies.

Job application form

Even though you already hired the candidate, it’s good to have the official application on file for administrative purposes. This helps establish what you did and didn’t know about the employee at the time of their hiring. It also helps to document that you followed your internal human resources protocols for things like background checks and credit checks. 

Offer letter

Be sure to include an offer letter in your new hire packet. Put together this document that formally invites the employee to work with you, and include this basic information:

  • Benefits
  • Compensation, including any hiring bonus, additional compensation, or commission details
  • Start date
  • Title and job description, as well as who the employee will report to
  • Type of employment, such as part-time vs. full-time or salary vs. hourly

Make sure the new employee gets a copy and also signs yours. Have this on file for a minimum of three years after they leave the company.

Employment agreement

In addition to the job offer letter, put together a formal employment agreement that details the responsibilities and rights of both parties. This agreement can mention specific company policies, security requirements, non-compete agreements, and non-disclosure agreement clauses that should be agreed to before the employee starts work.

Make sure your legal department or someone familiar with current employment law has a hand in creating these. Keep them on hand for a minimum of three years after the employee has left the company.

Employee handbook acknowledgment

Creating an employee handbook is a significant task, and it may take your employee some time to read through it, understand it, and agree to it. If possible, start the process early, before they begin their work, and have them sign a form agreeing to the policies right away.

This employee handbook will contain many things, including overall corporate policy, company benefits, legal definitions, and points of contact for any issues they have while working for you. The handbook acknowledgment form must be kept for at least three years after the employee has left the company.

Direct deposit authorization

If your employees choose to get paid by direct deposit, you’ll need to start the paperwork on this early. It can take many payroll companies an entire pay cycle or more to get it set up, so do this before the employee starts, if possible.

Your payroll company may have prepared the forms for you, but double-check that they include these essential pieces of information:

  • Name on the bank account, including any joint account holder information
  • Bank Name, address, and phone number
  • Account type: checking vs. savings
  • Routing number
  • Account number
  • Employee signature giving permission to deposit the funds
  • Date of acknowledgment
  • Language stating that the payroll terms are authorized until the employee explicitly terminates it

Some payroll companies also have forms to let the employee divide their paycheck into different accounts. This is usually done between checking and savings, or a checking and investment account. While more complicated, it can be a major perk for employees, so allow for this if you can.

You’ll need the same information for each account as well as a formula for how to divide up the money. For example, it could state that 50% goes into account #1, and 50% goes into account #2. Some employers may choose to even let the employee state that the first $500 goes into account #1, with the remainder in the second account. Consult with your payroll company if you’re unsure what’s allowed.

Keep payroll direct deposit forms on hand for a minimum of four years after the employee has left the company. There may be several versions, as employees are likely to change accounts at least once during their career.

Emergency contact information

What happens if something goes wrong with your employee? Whether they get sick at work or need to have a family member come get them in an emergency, this point of contact needs to be documented. An emergency contact form doesn’t have to be fancy, either. It can be as simple as a one-sheet form with the person’s name, relationship to the employee, and best phone number.

If possible, get at least two emergency contacts for each employee. Remind your employees to update this information regularly. You can set it up for them to review it at each year’s performance review, for example.

Policy acknowledgments

There may be other policies that you need to document in your workplace, outside of those in the handbook. This could be a statement that they’ve completed new sexual harassment training or are aware of current legal changes in their industry. Acknowledgments dealing with computer usage or how to handle expense accounts may be their own forms, as well.

Any policy that pertains to just some of the employees and not all, due to the nature of their work, may not be in the handbook and could be included in these separate policy acknowledgment forms. Keep these forms on hand for a minimum of three years after the employee has left the company.

Benefits information

Employee benefits can require more paperwork than any other part of the new hire process, so be sure you leave plenty of time to fill these out upon hiring. 

Things like health insurance, life insurance, dental and eye coverage, disability insurance, childcare or tuition reimbursement, and parking reimbursements are all considered benefits and should be explained fully when the new employee starts. Have them both indicate their preferences for benefits payments (such as which insurance plan they want) as well as how benefits will be paid.

Other benefits to go over include retirement, vacation and sick leave policy, paid time off, and maternity/paternity leave.

Keep everything documented and on file for a minimum of three years after they leave the company. For benefits that are handled through a third-party administrator or processor, get copies of everything and back up digital files to meet these guidelines.

New hire questionnaire

Consider a new hire questionnaire with fields for both common and uncommon questions that help you get to know your newest team members. You can choose to ask about what they hope to accomplish in the job, any food allergies, or what their favorite colors are.

You can also inquire about career goals and what they like most about their new position. Consider anything that’s legal to ask and that can help you relate to your new employee.

With so many forms to hand out, fill out, and keep track of, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With our tools at Comeet, however, it’s possible to automate more and ensure compliance in more areas. Ask about how we can make the process easier for you.

 

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Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith is a content strategy consultant working with high-growth businesses on their brand messaging, content strategy, and content creation. A digital nomad, she's exploring the world's cultures and cuisines as she works.

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