Understanding Essential New Hire Documents
Hiring a new employee is about finding the best person for the right job—but after you’ve picked the perfect hire, a mountain of paperwork stands between you and getting the new employee to work. Productivity comes after you’ve got all the proper new hire documents filled out and in place as part of the onboarding process.
Employee onboarding documents can be a hassle, but making sure each one is signed and filled out correctly and in time for a new employee to start is one of an HR professional’s jobs. In the United States, certain essential documents are needed to legally clear a new employee to receive a paycheck and pay taxes. Other documents aren’t required legally but are important to the onboarding process. To help you make sure you’ve got the right new hire documents, we’ve listed seven important employee onboarding documents you should be utilizing.
1. W-4 Form
You may have heard of this form, whether or not you know the W-4 form definition off the top of your head. The W-4 form is a tax document required in the United States for all new hires. The IRS uses it to determine how much pay should be withheld for taxes on every paycheck.
The W-4 form is filled out by the new employee and can be downloaded directly from the IRS. It’s best to include this form in your new hire packet or send it to them electronically, rather than directing your employee to the IRS website, for their convenience and to make sure they fill out the correct document. When filling it out, the new hire will answer a series of questions about their filing status, including marital status, additional employment, and number of dependents. All new hires must complete the W-4 form before they can receive their first paycheck.
2. Employment I-9 Form
The employment I-9 form is an employment eligibility form. It is used to make sure the new hire is currently eligible to work in the United States. As an employer, it is up to you to verify that your hire can legally work based on their citizenship, visa, resident, and immigration status. The I-9 involves two steps:
- The new hire fills out a form declaring their eligibility, and declares which documents can be used to verify their status.
- The new hire submits work eligibility documents, which you as the employer review and determine if they adequately verify work eligibility. The IRS has a list of acceptable documents that can be used for this process, including passports, birth certificates, permanent resident cards, etc.
Once you have verified the new hire’s citizenship, they are free to work. You do not need to submit the employment I-9 form or verifying documents, but you will need to produce them if an immigration officer requests employee documents.
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3. Non-Compete or Non-Disclosure Agreement
Another important employee onboarding document is the non-compete or non-disclosure agreement. This document is not required legally in the same way the tax documents and employment verification documents are but is definitely recommended to protect the intellectual property, systems, and processes your company uses to get a competitive edge.
- A non-compete agreement, signed by an employee, is a legally binding contract that requires the employee not to do anything to compete with your company after their employment ends—in other words, that they won’t work with a competitor or start a competing business. This agreement may expire after a specified amount of time.
- A non-disclosure agreement requires the employee to not discuss company policy or any projects in process with people outside of the company.
Both of these documents may vary by company and industry, but every business, including new and growing businesses, has an interest in protecting its processes and projects from the competition. The non-compete and non-disclosure agreements help with that.
4. Employment Offer Letter
The employment offer letter is another essential new hire document. It is an official and formal offer of employment. It lists these important details:
- Job title
- Job description
- Start date
- Starting salary
- Direct manager
- Benefits eligibility
- Any contingencies, such as passing a drug test and/or background check
The employee receives the letter and signs it to officially accept the position, acknowledging and agreeing to the details above regarding the position, pay, and benefits.
5. Direct Deposit Form
If your company offers direct deposit as a way of delivering paychecks, a direct deposit form is an essential new hire document. It collects the bank account number and routing number that can be used to deposit a paycheck in the employee’s bank account. Allowing employees to specify and set up direct deposit right from the onboarding process will ensure everything goes smoothly from their first paycheck.
6. Employee Handbook
Make sure your employees understand the dress code, policies, company values, code of conduct, and more at your company by including the employee handbook in their onboarding packet. They will appreciate knowing what to expect on their first day.
7. Employee Consent Form
If your company requires any consent forms for employees—for a background check, for example—include that for them to sign as well.
Employee onboarding documents are a crucial part of the onboarding process, making sure your new employee gets started off on the right foot, ready to perform well, follow company procedure, and receive their first and subsequent paychecks without a hitch.
Onboarding doesn’t have to be complicated or challenging: Learn how Eddy can help streamline your onboarding process.