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Onboarding a new hire is an exciting time. You’ve decided you like each other and are willing to give things a try.

But, before things can proceed further, quite of bit of new hire paperwork has to be completed by both the organization and the new employee.

This includes:

If you’re using a professional employer organization or employer of record then they’ll likely take care of this for you. If not, then here’s what’s mandatory and what’s advised.

Federal And State Forms

At the time of writing, here are the required federal and state forms:

  • I-9 Form Employment Eligibility Verification: This is required to verify the new employee's identity and eligibility to work in the United States. The employee and employer must both fill out sections of this form. Employers must complete a Form I-9 for each worker within three days of their start date​​​​.
  • Form W-4: All new hires must complete this form, which collects personal information such as the employee's number of dependents and marital status. It is used to calculate the correct amount of federal income tax withholding from the employee's paycheck. Contractors must fill out the W-9 form.
  • State W-4 form: While not required in every state, some states require workers to complete a state-specific W-4 form. At the time of writing, 41 states require a state W-4 form. If you're hiring remote employees, it's important to understand and comply with their local tax guidelines.
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Internal Forms And Paperwork

As well as mandatory federal and state forms, you’ll likely want the new hire to review and sign:

  • Offer letter
  • Employment contract/agreement
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
  • Proprietary information and invention assignment (PIIAs)
  • Employee handbook agreement that covers:
    • Policy acknowledgment
    • Code of conduct
    • Non-compete agreements
    • Use of company equipment
  • Drug and/or alcohol test consent agreements
  • Job analysis forms (responsibilities, goals, and performance evaluation criteria).

Personal Data

  • Direct deposit form—so the new hire can be paid via direct deposit into their bank account (if you have an HRIS it will be part of the onboarding process)
  • Emergency contact information form (again, if you have an HRIS this will be part of the onboarding process)
  • A questionnaire asking them about their interests so you can make their onboarding extra special!

Employee Benefits Forms

Typically, new starters don't have to sign anything but it’s worth mentioning because certain benefit disclosures/notices need to be provided.

These vary by state, size of employer, how employers are insured (self-insured vs fully insured) as well as benefit offering types etc.

Here are some common notice examples:

  • Premium Assistance Under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Notice of Special Enrollment Rights
  • Disclosure of HIPAA OptOut 
  • General Notice of FMLA Rights
  • Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act Notice

Many Summary Plan Descriptions provide these notices so it’s common for employers to share that as part of new hire onboarding and have employees acknowledge receipt through the HRIS system.

New Hire Paperwork Best Practices 

  • As part of your compliance rigor, keep abreast of federal and state regulations by joining human resource networks such as SHRM. Your legal counsel can also help.
  • Aim to get all paperwork completed on the first day or, as much as possible, during the preboarding phase.
  • Create an onboarding checklist and add form completion to this.
  • Automate the form signing process using an onboarding software solution.
  • Some employers require a background check for new employees. If this is the case then this might go into the new employee’s file.

Onboarding With An Employer Of Record

An EOR acts as the legal employer for the employee, even though the employee works at another company. 

This arrangement is particularly common in situations where a company wants to hire employees in a location where they don't have a legal entity. As you compare the benefits of using something like an employer of record or staffing agency, considering their role in the onboarding process is important.

Here are some key aspects of how an EOR handles new hire paperwork:

  • Employment contracts and agreements: The EOR is responsible for drafting and managing employment contracts, ensuring that they comply with local labor laws and regulations.
  • Tax documentation: They handle necessary tax forms and documentation, ensuring that the employee is correctly set up for tax purposes in their jurisdiction.
  • Benefits enrollment: The EOR manages the enrollment of employees in various benefits programs, if applicable, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks.
  • Compliance with local laws: An EOR ensures that all employment practices, including new hire paperwork, comply with local labor laws. This is especially important for companies hiring employees in different countries or regions.
  • Onboarding process: They often facilitate the onboarding process, which includes not only the paperwork but also the introduction to company policies, procedures, and culture.
  • Payroll setup: The EOR provider sets up payroll for new hires, ensuring that all relevant information is correctly processed for timely and accurate payment.
  • Data privacy and security: Handling sensitive employee data requires adherence to data protection regulations, which the EOR manages as part of their responsibility.
  • Visa and work permit processing: If the new hire requires a work visa or permit, the EOR can assist in obtaining and managing these documents.

Onboarding With A Professional Employer Organization

A Professional Employer Organization typically handles new hire paperwork as part of its services. A PEO enters into a co-employment arrangement with a company where it takes on many employer-related responsibilities and risks. 

Here's how a PEO typically deals with new hire paperwork:

  • Employment contracts and agreements: PEO companies assist in creating and managing employment contracts that are compliant with local labor laws, ensuring all legal requirements are met.
  • Tax form management: They handle critical tax-related documents, such as W-4 forms for tax withholdings in the United States, ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local tax regulations.
  • Benefits administration: PEOs often manage enrollment in health insurance, retirement plans, and other employee benefits, handling all associated paperwork.
  • Compliance with labor laws: Ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations is a key part of a PEO's role, and this extends to the handling of new hire documentation.
  • Onboarding process: PEOs typically facilitate the onboarding process, which includes the completion of necessary paperwork and orientation to company policies and culture.
  • Payroll registration: They set up new employees in the payroll system, handling all aspects of payroll administration and ensuring accurate and timely payment.
  • Data privacy and security: PEOs manage sensitive employee data, adhering to data protection laws and ensuring the security and confidentiality of personal information.
  • Training and development programs: Some PEOs may also assist with setting up training and development programs for new hires, including the necessary documentation and tracking.

Check out our article to learn more about the difference between a PEO and EOR.

Finn Bartram
By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.