Perusing the paperwork

Forms and Paperwork Needed to Hire an Employee

Businesses operating in the United States have direct access to one of the largest talent pools in the world. That being said, there are both state and federal employment requirements that can make it challenging to hire an employee. To make an effective hire, follow the guidelines of this post and present new hires with all federally required forms and paperwork.

Forms and Paperwork Needed to Hire Employees

Before your new hire receives their first paycheck, you as the employer have the responsibility of providing them with the necessary forms and paperwork. These forms must be completed by every employee, according to federal and state laws.

After the necessary paperwork has been completed by each employee, make sure to keep them stored in a secure location in case the U.S Department of Labor requests the records, or if you’re audited by state or local agencies.

[Related: The New Hire Onboarding Checklist]

Form W-4 for Federal Income Tax Withholding

All new hires must complete Form W-4. Form W-4 collects personal information such as number of dependents and marital status, and is used to calculate withholding for federal income taxes.

In 2017, there were significant changes made to Form W-4 through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Make sure to use the most recent Form W-4 from 2018 to ensure new employees can avoid having too much taken from their paychecks.

Note: Employees are able to change their Form W-4 as frequently as they’d like. It is your responsibility as the employer to manage and keep track of the changes to make sure employee paychecks reflect the changes they’ve made.

Form W-2

Every employer who pays remuneration, including noncash payments of $600 or more for the year (all mounts if any income, social security, or Medicare tax was withheld) for services performed by an employee must file a Form W-2 for each employee (even if the employee is related to the employer) from whom:

  • Income, social security, or Medicare tax was withheld.
  • Income tax would have been withheld if the employee had claimed no more than one withholding allowance or had not claimed exemption from withholding on Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate.

You can find a copy of Form W-2 for download here.

Form I-9 Employee Eligibility Form

Form I-9 documents whether employees are eligible to work in the US. The employee eligibility form must be completed by every new hire. You’ll need to review and photocopy some form of legal identification such as a passport or state identification.

There are two steps involved in completing the I-9 form:

  1. The employee fills out the I-9 Form
  2. You as the employer review and confirm that the documents provided are adequate and accurate

You are not required to submit the form. However, if an immigration officer comes to your company, you must have these documents completed and verified.

Note: E-Verify system is an electronic system that uses the information from Form I-9 to confirm that an employee is eligible by matching them to federal databases.

Job Application Form

Having new hires complete a job application form ensures that you as the employer are protected from applicants making fraudulent claims. In this form, you request information regarding education, previous jobs, contacts for background/reference checks and more. You’ll also have them complete a series of statements that ask them if the information provided is true and correct.

State Withholding and Registration

This registration is designed to help the state collect child support payments from employees. There are a number of different regulations that vary by state. Each state that collects income taxes has different requirements. Make sure to contact your state department or visit the state website to determine what information is needed.

Other State Regulations

As we mentioned earlier, different states have different regulations. For example, California has one of the strictest set of requirements for hiring employees. In California, employees will be required to fill out additional documents such as health insurance, workers compensation, disability forms, sexual harassment forms and more.

You can find some examples of other state hiring requirements here:

Employee Handbook

If you don’t already, then you should consider building an employee handbook for your employees. An employee handbook ensures that employees are aware of the various company policies and procedures.

All new employees should receive an employee handbook, and be required to sign that they have read and understand the company policies. By doing this, you can mitigate potential lawsuits and help prevent employees from becoming toxic to your workplace.

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