October 3, 2023
Title image with "The Essential New Hire Onboarding Paperwork Checklist" over a photo of two people shaking hands

When was the last time you took a critical look at your new hire onboarding processes? Specifically, the paperwork and compliance piece? 

If it’s been over a year, it’s time for a review! As you evaluate your onboarding practices, consider:

  • What your business does
  • What paperwork and reporting you need
  • The types of workers you hire
  • What paperwork you currently use—is it comprehensive and up-to-date?

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid during onboarding is not having a process and a thorough checklist to streamline this documentation! You can start by reviewing the new hire paperwork you should have to ensure labor law compliance.

Standard Employment Forms

You’ll need to complete several forms for all new hires, most of which you must file with the government.

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification

Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of people hired for employment in the United States. Every new hire, including citizens and noncitizens, must complete Form I-9 by their first day of work. Employers must examine the employee’s identification documents within three days after the employee starts.

Proper completion of Form I-9 is crucial to avoid penalties. Fortunately, the new I-9 alternative procedure has made this process much easier and more efficient! Employers in good standing in E-Verify can use this new remote method for new employees.

Retain all I-9s for three years after the employee’s hire date or one year after their termination (whichever is later). Ensure they are filed securely, separate from other employee documents.

Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate

Every employee must complete Form W-4 when they start a new job. This form tells your payroll team how much they need to withhold from each employee’s pay for income taxes. So, while you’ll need to keep it on file, you don’t need to send it to the IRS.

Form W-4 includes instructions, and the IRS offers an online tax withholding estimator to help employees decide how much they want withheld from their paychecks. Employees might choose to update their W-4 if their finances change. You’ll need to keep each employee’s W-4 for four years.

State Tax Withholding Form (if applicable)

Your new hire may need to complete a state tax withholding form, depending on your state’s requirements. Check with your state’s revenue or taxation office to determine if it mandates a separate tax withholding form.

Employee Benefits Forms (if applicable)

Does your company offer employee benefits? If so, you must give new hires information and enrollment forms. Typically, your insurance company will provide this paperwork or use online portals where employees can create accounts and access all relevant insurance information.

Employee benefits documentation varies based on your business, size, and what you offer, but usually include:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Disability insurance
  • PTO and sick leave
  • Stock options

This is also a good time to inform your newest team members of other unique benefits and perks you offer, such as gym memberships, Aflac coverage, or pet insurance.

State New Hire Reporting

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) requires employers to report new hires to their state. This usually includes the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, and date of hire, along with your name and EIN. All employers must complete this reporting within 20 days of the hire date, although some states require it earlier. 

State new hire reporting is an effort to obtain delinquent child support payments from employees who owe. Reporting new hires correctly and on time is vital, as states can levy hefty penalties against employers for noncompliance. Find your state’s requirements from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Equal Opportunity (EEO) Data Form

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires EEO reports from private employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees. While it only applies to your actual employees, many companies incorporate the EEO-1 Survey into their application process to ensure they collect this data (note there are several versions for certain types of employers).

Learn more about EEO reporting.

Internal New Hire Paperwork

Several types of new hire paperwork, like the offer letter and employment contract, are not legally required but are a best practice. Depending on your organization and the role(s) you’re hiring for, you may also have employees sign additional policies and agreements.

Offer Letter

Every new employee relationship should begin with an offer letter! This written letter should include the essentials of the new hire’s position, including:

  • Job title and description
  • Compensation
  • Employee benefits
  • Start date

Your employee should sign the offer letter once they accept the terms.

Employment Agreement or Contract

Although most states don’t require an employment contract or agreement, they are always a good idea! This contract protects the rights and responsibilities of the employer and employee. An employment agreement typically includes details such as:

  • Employee role and responsibilities
  • Length of employment (if applicable)
  • Work schedule
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Termination conditions

Non-disclosure Agreement

Will your new employee have access to confidential company information? If so, you’ll likely want them to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). You can include this in the employment contract or create a separate agreement. Consult with your attorney to determine what’s best.

Non-compete Agreement

Depending on your market, you might want certain employees to sign a non-compete agreement (NCA). This prohibits the employee from working for your competitors or starting a competing business during or after employment for a specific period. Again, this can be part of the employment contract or a separate agreement.

Be wary when implementing non-competes—certain states don’t enforce them, and California doesn’t even recognize them! Others prevent them for specific professions. Learn more about NCAs and when you can use them.

Non-solicitation Agreement

A non-solicitation agreement restricts an employee from actively soliciting or attempting to persuade the employer’s clients, customers, employees, or business partners to leave or terminate their business relationships with the company for a certain period after the employee leaves the organization. 

Non-solicitation agreements are often part of the employment contract or even included with the NDA or NCA, but can also stand alone. Like NCAs, the enforceability of non-solicitation agreements varies by state. Courts usually determine whether the restrictions are reasonable and necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests. Always speak with your attorney about these agreements!

Employee Handbook & Company Policies

We are BIG proponents of employee handbooks here at BlueLion, even though they’re not legally required. It’s a simple, organized way to share info on company policies, HR and legal matters, and company benefits and perks.

By presenting the complete employee handbook to new hires and reviewing all the essential data and policies, you can ensure they understand everything expected of them. Once they’ve read it, have them sign an acknowledgment form stating they’ve reviewed the handbook and agree to follow these policies.

Background Check Notification (if applicable)

There are many types of background checks, such as criminal history checks and employment history verification. Most are conducted pre-employment, although some companies run background checks regularly throughout employment. Background checks are used to verify the accuracy of information the applicant provides, assess their qualifications and suitability for the job, and ensure workplace safety and security.

Most states require employers to obtain the applicant’s written consent before conducting a background check. You can typically do this through a separate disclosure and authorization form, which should clearly state that a background check is part of the hiring process.

You should also beware of “ban the box” laws, which some states have implemented to restrict when and how employers can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history.

Employee Information

Finally, the early stages of new employee onboarding are the perfect time to collect some of their personal information to help provide the best environment for your newest team members.

Direct Deposit Form

If you pay employees via direct deposit like most employers, your new hires must complete a direct deposit form authorizing you to deposit money into their bank account regularly.

Emergency Contact & Personal Details

Collecting every employee’s emergency contact information has long been a best practice; after all, you should know who to contact in case of an accident or health emergency. This should include the individual’s name, phone number, email, and relation to the employee.

This is also a good opportunity to request health details, such as allergies, dietary restrictions, and medical conditions that may need accommodations, from your new hires. While you can’t require employees to disclose this information, you can let them know that sharing these details will help you provide necessary accommodations or assistance in an emergency.

Ensure Smooth & Compliant New Hire Onboarding

Simply put, there is a lot of new hire paperwork to complete! But you can improve efficiency and accuracy by: 

  • Going digital: Move away from paper forms and consider using electronic onboarding solutions or software. This allows new hires to complete paperwork online, reduces paperwork errors, and makes storing and managing documents easier.
  • Prioritizing essentials: Identify the essential forms and documents that must be completed during onboarding, such as tax forms (e.g., W-4), employment contracts, and emergency contact information. Focus on collecting these critical details ahead of or on the first day.
  • Using checklists: Provide new hires with a clear list of all required documents and tasks for onboarding. This helps employees track their progress and ensures nothing is missed.
  • Collecting online signatures: Implement electronic signature solutions to allow new hires to sign documents digitally. This eliminates the need for physical signatures, speeds up the process, and is particularly helpful for companies onboarding remote employees.
  • Centralizing documentation: Create a centralized digital repository or cloud-based system to store all onboarding documents. This makes it easy for HR and employees to access and retrieve documents when needed. If possible, integrate your onboarding system with your Human Resources Information System (HRIS) for optimal document management.
  • Customizing onboarding packs: Create customized onboarding packets or portals for different job roles or departments. This ensures that new hires only receive relevant paperwork and information.
  • Conducting compliance checks: Review and update onboarding documents regularly to ensure compliance with current laws and regulations.

By implementing these tips and leveraging technology where possible, you can significantly streamline the onboarding paperwork process, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance the overall onboarding experience for new hires.

If your business is growing rapidly and you need support with new hire onboarding, BlueLion is happy to help! Our HR specialists can take new hire paperwork off your plate, review and update company policies and procedures, and improve your processes. Contact us today at 603-818-4131 or info@bluelionllc.com to learn more!

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.