How to Hire an Employee in California

Businesses operating in California have direct access to one of the largest economies in the country, not to mention the world.

That being said, the high cost of living in California, stringent state employment requirements and the high standards of employees working in the Golden State can make it challenging to hire an employee in California.

To make an effective and fully-compliant hire in California, follow the guidelines of this post and present new hires with all federally required forms, paperwork and information.

Evaluate the Job You are Offering in California

To make skilled hires in California, you must be sure that the compensation you’re offering is appropriate for the area you operate in and the level of experience you want from candidates.

California has 3 out of the top 5 most expensive cities in America (San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose) and if the salary you’re offering is out of step with other companies in your area, you may not be able to generate interest in your open job.

Along with the actual compensation offered, you should evaluate other job characteristics that talented candidates will be interested in, like:

You can use Glassdoor Salaries to see the salary range for the position you’re offering in your area and ensure that you aren’t marketing a job that is impossible to hire.

[Related: Glassdoor’s Guide to Salary Conversations]

Hiring an Employee in California

The salary you’re offering needs to be appropriate when you’re hiring an employee in California, but your open job also needs to be marketed in the right way.

People working in some of California’s most lucrative industries, such as tech, expect a lot from their employer, and will pass on job opportunities that are “run of the mill.”

Many companies hiring in California devote much more time making their job descriptions appealing to readers and explaining their company’s culture than enumerating job requirements. This can result in a greater number of under-qualified applicants, but this tactic will also result in more engagement from skilled senior candidates.

When your job advertising speaks to readers at a high level and is more geared toward explaining what your company offers as an employer, it will impress top-tier candidates who know they are qualified for your open job. You can get into more specifics once they have applied, but to get their interest in the first place, it is best to summarize requirements that will be understood by high-level candidates.

To see some examples of how jobs are being marketed in your area, you can search Glassdoor Jobs for the position you’re hiring for, and get some ideas for your job description.

[Related: Post Up to 10 Jobs Free]

Evaluate Candidates in California

When evaluating candidates for an open job, it’s important to think about fit, both in terms of the work that a candidate will do and in terms of their fit with your company.

No matter how proficient a candidate is at completing the work you need done, they won’t stay in the long term if they don’t experience fit with your company or their co-workers. Because of this, candidates should be evaluated for:

  • Technical skill to complete work required for the role.
  • Aspirational fit with work required for the role.
  • Personality fit with co-workers and direct managers.
  • Personal and ethical fit with your company.

When interviewing candidates, it is important that you do not ask any questions that are considered discriminatory on the basis or race, gender, gender identity, religion, age or other demographic information that is protected by discrimination law.

To help you evaluate the difficulty you will have in filling open jobs, here are some stats on hiring demand in California:

Occupations with Most Job Openings in California

Jobs with Highest Annual Growth Rate in Job Openings in California

  1. Brick Masons and Block Masons: 5.6%
  2. Roofers: 4.9%
  3. Web Developers: 4.8%
  4. Software Developers, Applications: 4.2%
  5. Operations Research Analysts: 4.2%
  6. Biomedical Engineers: 4.1%
  7. Home Health Aides: 3.9%
  8. Nurse Practitioners: 3.9%
  9. Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers: 3.8%
  10. Cooks, Restaurant: 3.7%
  11. Interpreters and Translators: 3.7%
  12. Personal Care Aides: 3.6%
  13. Computer Systems Analysts: 3.5%
  14. Tapers: 3.5%
  15. Physician Assistants: 3.4%

[Related: Job Descriptions Template]

New Hire Forms and Paperwork in California

California has some of the strictest employment standards in the nation, and all employers must comply with these standards, or pay the price.

Here are the employment requirements that all employers must meet in California when hiring a new employee:

  • Employees in California must fill out a federal W2 tax form, which must be filed with the IRS by their employer.
  • Employees in California must be provided with workers compensation insurance specific to the type of work they perform.
  • Employees in California must be provided with health insurance if an employer has over 49 employees.
  • Employers are required to display a DE 1857A poster advising employees of their right to claim Unemployment Insurance (UI), Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits.
  • Employers must meet general employer protection information posting requirements and provide the required employee protections described therein.
  • Meet industry and occupation-specific information posting requirements and provide the required employee protections described therein.
  • Employees in California must be presented with the following forms and informational pamphlets as they undergo new hire orientation. Forms must be filled out completely, unless these forms are specific claims and informational resources must be read completely by new employees:
    • I-9, Employment Eligibility Form Form
    • W-4, Federal Tax Withholding Form Form
    • DE-4, California Tax Withholding Form
    • DWC 1, Workers Compensation Claim Form (for future reference) Form
    • DE 2515, Disability Insurance Provisions Form
    • DE 2511, Paid Family Leave Insurance Form
    • DFEH-185, Sexual Harassment Form
    • DFEH-188 CFRA Form
    • Time to Hire/Workers’ Compensation Form
    • DLSE-NTE, Wage Theft Prevention Act (non-exempt employees only) Form
    • Rights of Victims of Domestic, Sexual Assault and Stalking Form
    • Disability Self-Identification Form (if business is done with government)
  • Employers must follow all requirements of California’s New Hire Reporting Program and use e-Services for Business to submit a Report of New Employee(s)  (DE 34) online.
    • “All California employers must report all of their new or rehired employees who work in California to the New Employee Registry within 20 days of their start-of-work date, which is the first day of work. Any employee that is rehired after a separation of at least 60 consecutive days must also be reported within 20 days. Employers who report electronically must submit two files each month that are not less than 12 days and not more than 16 days apart. No report should be submitted if there are no new or rehired employees to report.”
    • You are required by law to report the following:
      • Employers:
        • California employer payroll tax account number
        • Branch Code (complete only if employer was assigned a Branch Code number)
        • Federal employer identification number
        • Business name and address
        • Contact person and phone number
      • Employees:
        • First name, middle initial and last name
        • Social Security number
        • Home address
        • Start-of-work date
  • Employers are required to file both a Quarterly Contribution Return and Report of Wages (DE 9) and the Quarterly Contribution Return and Report of Wages (Continuation) (DE 9C) each quarter using e-services.
  • Employers must make payroll tax deposits using e-service for business to make a Payroll Tax Deposit (DE 88/DE 88ALL)
    • “Although employer contributions for UI and ETT are due quarterly (same dates as the DE 9 and DE 9C), withholdings from employees’ wages for SDI and PIT may need to be deposited more often. Due dates for combined deposits of SDI and PIT are based on an employer’s federal deposit schedule/requirement (see “Depositing Taxes” in IRS Publication 15) and the amount of accumulated PIT they have withheld. A 15 percent penalty (10 percent penalty for periods prior to 3rd quarter 2014) and interest are charged on late payments.”
  • Employers must meet all filing and due date requirements established by the California Economic Development Department.
  • Employers must deposit and report federal employment taxes to the IRS by following  IRS procedures for payroll reporting and payment.
  • Follow all California EEO standards during the hiring process.

[Related: How to Navigate New Laws Banning the Salary History Question]

New Hire Checklist California

There’s a lot to keep track of when making a new hire in California, so you can use this checklist to help you as you hire new employees.

Required Employment Forms in California for new hires

The new hire has signed the following forms:

  1. Signed Job Offer Letter
  2. W2 Tax Form
  3. I-9 Form and Supporting Documents
  4. Direct Deposit Authorization Form (Template)
  5. Federal W-4 Form
  6. DE 4 California Payroll Tax Form
  7. Employee Personal Data Form (Template)
  8. Company Worker’s Compensation Insurance Policy Forms
  9. Company Health Insurance Policy Forms
  10. Disability Self-Identification Form (if business is done with government)
  11. Company Non-Disclosure Agreement (if applicable)

California Payroll Tax and Reporting Requirements

Use the California Economic Development Department’s e-services for businesses to:

  1. Report new employees within 20 days of start of their work date with a Report of New Employee(s) (DE 34)
    • You are required by law to report the following:
      • Employers:
        • California employer payroll tax account number
        • Branch Code (complete only if employer was assigned a Branch Code number)
        • Federal employer identification number
        • Business name and address
        • Contact person and phone number
      • Employee’s:
        • First name, middle initial and last name.
        • Social Security number
        • Home address
        • Start-of-work date
  2. File both a Quarterly Contribution Return and Report of Wages (DE 9) and the Quarterly Contribution Return and Report of Wages (Continuation)(DE 9C) each quarter, unless required to make a payment sooner.
  3. Make Payroll Tax Deposits (DE 88/DE 88ALL) as required by the Economic Development Department’s filing and due date requirements.
  4. Deposit and report federal employment taxes to the IRS by following  IRS procedures for payroll reporting and payment.

Required Information for New Hires in Califronia

The new hire has been presented with the following information:

  1. DE 1857A poster
  2. DWC 1 Workers Compensation Claim Form (for future reference)
  3. DE 2515, Disability Insurance Provisions
  4. DE 2511, Paid Family Leave Insurance
  5. DFEH-185, Sexual Harassment
  6. DFEH-188, CFRA
  7. Time to Hire/Workers’ Compensation
  8. DLSE-NTE, Wage Theft Prevention Act (non-exempt employees only)
  9. Rights of Victims of Domestic, Sexual Assault and Stalking
  10. All general employee protection information required by the state
  11. All industry-specific employee protection information required by the state
  12. Company standards of professional conduct (if applicable)
  13. You have followed all EEO standards that prohibit discrimination when making a hire in California

You should also check with your city and country to see if they have any other requirements for the hiring of new employees and any employment standards in addition to the statewide requirements.

LEARN MORE & DOWNLOAD: 

New Hire Onboarding Checklist

To set the tone for a high level of engagement, it’s critical to get the onboarding process just right.