In September 2021 alone, payroll employment rose by around 195,000. As that many people prepare to enter the workforce, HR managers around the country are going to be busy!
Are you responsible for onboarding new team members into your organization? If so, then you know that the administrative aspect can be intense, but every document is necessary.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the new employee paperwork that you’ll need to keep on hand. These are the materials that they’ll need to complete in full before their first day of work.
Part 1: Federal and State Forms
In terms of new hire paperwork, the documents that you’ll handle will fall into one of two categories. These include:
- Forms required by federal and state law
- Standard new employee forms required by your organization
Let’s begin with the documents that are required by law. All employees beginning work in the United States will need to complete these forms at the beginning of the onboarding process.
W-4 Tax Form
A W-4 Form is also known as an Employee’s Withholding Certificate. It details the tax situation of each employee. Employers can use this form to determine the amount of federal income tax they need to withhold from that employee’s pay.
If an employee ever wants to make any changes to their W-4 Form (e.g. withhold more taxes), then they’ll need to complete an updated version. On your end, you’ll need to ensure proper document management. Companies are required to keep W-4 Forms on file for each employee, and you must keep them for at least four years after the employment tax is paid.
Withholding State Income Tax Forms
In addition to the federal tax withheld through the W-4 Tax Form, you may need to pay withholding income tax on the state level. Each state will have its own regulations regarding this tax. You can visit your state’s Department of Revenue (DOR) website to learn more about your specific requirements.
To make this process easier, the Federation of Tax Administrators (FTA) has compiled a list of each state, followed by a link to their DOR site. You can find it here.
An I-9 Form is also known as an Employment Eligibility Verification. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues these forms to confirm the identity of a prospective employee. It also verifies that the person is eligible to work in the United States.
On this form, you’ll find two different sections. New employees will complete their part by their first day at work, and the employer must have their part finished within three days of that date. To prove identity and authorization to work, there are a few different forms that the USCIS will accept.
This is one of the most important forms, and should be near the top of your new employee paperwork checklist. Both parties could incur serious fees for entering incorrect information, either by mistake or intentionally. Take the time to read the instructions and make sure everything is in order before you proceed.
Employers are required to hold onto I-9 forms for three years after an employee begins work, and one year after they leave the company.
PRWORA New Hire Reporting Form
As you learn how to manage new employee paperwork, you’ll soon find that there are plenty of acronyms to learn! Standing for the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, PRWORA is one of them.
Under this Act, employers are required to inform their state government any time they add a new hire to their team. One of the reasons why this form is required is that it can have an effect on an individual’s duty to pay child support. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) created this comprehensive new hire list to simplify the process.
On this list, you’ll find a row for every state, along with specific forms or data elements required for each new hire. You’ll also find the timeframe for submittal, as well as the party to submit the documents to.
Standard New Employee Forms
The above documents were required by law to bring a new employee into your organization. At the bare minimum, those forms should be part of your company’s comprehensive onboarding process.
In addition, most organizations also have their own documents that employees must complete before beginning work. Next, let’s take a look at a few of the most common ones.
Official Offer Letter
Gone are the days when a handshake was enough to seal a deal! Now, agreements are much more formal. An official offer letter clearly explains the role that a new employee will fill, as well as other key details such as salary, benefits, type of employment, and more.
To save time and standardize this process, you can create a basic template that you’ll customize for each new hire. You may also add supplemental materials to the letter, such as a more detailed description of their benefits plan.
Employee Agreement Form
An eager new employee may nod their head when you ask if they understand their new job duties. Then, they arrive at the office on their first day of work and seem utterly confused.
To avoid this issue, go ahead and create an employee agreement form that details the full scope of their responsibilities. In most cases, this document is meatier than an offer letter, and will include more intricate details. For instance, if an employee is working under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), then you’d put those details in the employee agreement form.
Again, you can save time and money by using a customizable template to create this form. There are many different types of onboarding tools that can automate and simplify this process. However, if your company has many nuances or operates in a niche market with specific requirements, then you may want to enlist the help of a legal professional.
Employee Handbook and Form
Employee handbooks might seem like optional, nice-to-have features, but they can be critical additions to your onboarding process. A long-form handbook gives you a chance to expand on important topics and make sure everything is covered.
This includes more detailed HR information, as well as insights into your company policies, culture, and other core topics. As you might expect, a ton of work will go into the creation of this handbook. That’s why it’s important to make sure that all employees actually read it!
Some HR managers simply provide a Handbook Acknowledgment Form and ask new hires to sign it. Others will test their knowledge by creating a short quiz. Regardless of the method you use, you need some way to verify that the handbook didn’t just wind up in the back of an office drawer.
Payment Distribution Form
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all payment distribution system that works for every company. While most managers choose to pay their employees by direct depositing their funds into their bank account, others will issue paper checks. Then, there are employers who pay via digital platforms, such as PayPal.
Before an employee begins work, this information should be clearly shared. This means that you’ll need to obtain the employee’s bank account information so you know where to direct their payment. If you work with a payroll manager, then there may already be a template in place for this data.
Otherwise, you will need to create one and standardize it across your organization. Important fields to remember include the name of the employee’s bank, the account they want the funds deposited into, and their routing/account numbers. Employees should sign and date the document and ensure all of the information is accurate and valid.
Employee Information Sheet
Yes, a new hire information sheet should include basic information such as their name, birthdate, address, and emergency contact information. However, you don’t have to stop there!
Why not make this form a little more interactive and fun? Include questions that will reveal a little more about each employee’s personality, such as:
- What is your favorite place to eat?
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
- What made you choose our company?
- What are you most excited about in this new role?
Brainstorm a few more questions with the HR team and distribute this questionnaire to everyone who joins your team. You can inject a little personality and company culture in here, and encourage them to follow suit.
New Employee Paperwork Made Easy
It’s always exciting to welcome a new employee into your organization. However, before they can hit the ground running and start work, they’ll need to complete these documents first.
This new employee paperwork might seem laborious, but it can help set the stage for a successful partnership moving forward. In addition to the forms required by law, take the time to create your own templates to learn as much as possible about your new team member.
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