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New Hire Paperwork: A Guide To Onboarding Compliance

by Karyn H. Rhodes | SHRM-SCP, SPHR on Feb 9, 2021 5:17:59 AM

Expanding your workforce can be an exciting time for your business. But with so much paperwork for you and your new employees to complete correctly, it can also be tricky to onboard new hires while staying compliant with employment laws and regulations.

Complete Payroll Solutions’ team of certified HR professionals assist clients with all aspects of hiring, from drafting job descriptions to onboarding. We understand the steps that are required to bring on a new worker properly. To help ensure you start your employees off right, in this article, we’ll cover: 

  • What new hire paperwork is needed
  • The consequences of poor onboarding
  • How to get help with hiring employees

After reading this, you’ll know what documents are required when hiring a new employee so you can make sure you onboard correctly.

What Is Onboarding?

Once you hire an employee, onboarding is the process of bringing them into the company, assimilating them into your culture, and ensuring they have the tools to ramp up quickly to be a productive member of the team.

There are several steps involved in employee onboarding:

  • Providing an introduction to the job and performance expectations
  • Sharing procedure manuals, if applicable
  • Explaining work rules
  • Sharing the employee handbook
  • Introducing the employee to their work area
  • Going over payroll procedures
  • Providing benefit information and required notices
  • Providing necessary items to employees like keys or a computer
  • Getting completed forms from the employee

This last one – new hire paperwork – is often the one that causes the most stress for employers and employees alike so we’ll focus on that here.

What New Hire Paperwork Is Needed?

The type of paperwork your new employees will need to fill out may vary depending on the type of position. For example, if they’re a part-time worker, they may not be eligible for benefits so you wouldn’t need to provide them health benefit enrollment forms.

Generally speaking, however, these are the primary employment forms that you’ll ask your new employee to complete:

  • Confidentiality/proprietary agreement
  • Form W-4 to indicate their desired federal income tax withholding
  • State withholding form, if applicable
  • Form I-9 to show they are authorized to work in the US
  • Employment handbook acknowledgment that demonstrates they’ve received a copy
  • Emergency information form
  • Health benefit enrollment forms
  • Direct deposit form (optional)
  • Non-harassment policy

While many companies provide these documents in printed form, there are also many different onboarding software solutions available that automatically send documentation tasks to new employees and allow you to get electronic signatures. You can purchase one of these solutions on your own or you may get it as part of a package if you choose to outsource your payroll to a third-party provider.

Once you have the signed documents from your employees, it’s your responsibility to store them properly for the required amount of time. For example, you should keep a Form I-9 on file for each current employee and, once they terminate, for three years after the date of hire or 1 year after the day their employment ended, whichever is later. Since new hire paperwork has different recordkeeping requirements, you should familiarize yourself with the rules and develop a records retention schedule.

Is New Hire Reporting Necessary?

In addition to collecting required paperwork from new employees, you’re also required to report some information to your state to help recover delinquent child support payments. This reporting is required by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), a law implemented jointly by federal and state agencies to ensure proper wage garnishments if an employee owes child support.

Typically, you’ll need to report an employee’s name, address, Social Security number, and date of hire as well as your name and address and your FEIN. Some states also require additional data for their reporting. Under PRWORA, the information is required within 20 days, but some states may require it sooner.

Since states have the option to impose civil monetary penalties for noncompliance, it’s important that you report new hire information timely.

For example, in Massachusetts, new hire reporting is due within 14 days of an employee’s start date and, in Maine, the information is due within 7 days of the hire date. Since states have the option to impose civil monetary penalties for noncompliance, it’s important that you report new hire information timely.

The US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement has a list of all state requirements.

If you use an outsourced payroll provider, their technology platform will typically transmit this new hire information to your state agency automatically. You’ll still want to confirm it’s being taken care of.

Why is Proper Onboarding Important?

There’s a lot of documentation required when bringing on a new employee. And it’s important to get it right for a number of reasons.

  1. You’ll build a better relationship with your employees from the start. By giving them tools that lay out expectations like an employee handbook, you’ll help them become effective members of your team. Since nearly one-third of new hires quit within the first six months, it’s important that engagement begins on day one.
  2. Employees will be paid correctly. By ensuring they complete their W-4 and any required state withholding form, employees will have the right amount withheld from their paychecks. Accurate pay can go a long way to boosting their satisfaction.
  3. It can be more convenient for workers. If you offer direct deposit, having employees complete the required paperwork will mean they’ll get their first paycheck deposited the way they want.
  4. You can better comply with employment law requirements. From meeting US Citizenship and Immigration Services requirements for Form I-9 to ensuring compliance with benefit notice requirements, new hire paperwork is essential to protecting your business from penalties and lawsuits.

Staying Compliance When Onboarding New Employees

Since there are so many steps to keep track of when it comes to new hire paperwork and a lot at stake, you may be wondering if there are ways to help you stay on top of everything.

One of the best ways to avoid missing anything is to create a checklist for new employees that lists what materials you need to provide to your new hire and forms they need to complete. When you use a checklist, you’ll be able to make sure applicable paperwork is distributed and received back from the employee by checking off the box next to each item as they complete it.

You may also choose to outsource some of your HR functions like hiring and onboarding. At Complete Payroll Solutions, we can help you recruit the staff you need then onboard them seamlessly into your company with technology that simplifies the process. Bring on new hires quickly and compliantly with our HR team’s customized services.


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