Mastering New Hire Paperwork: The Key to Onboarding Success

Blue background. Magenta accent circle. Line icon in navy blue of a stack of new hire paperwork.

For employers, gathering and providing new hire paperwork for a new employee can be a complex task.

Some employers have systems that manage this information and guide their new employees through the new hire paperwork page by page. Others won’t have that option and will need new employees to fill out paperwork by hand (and send in electronically if they are working remotely).

Some employers have their employees fill out new hire paperwork in advance, while others require that they do it on the clock on their first day.

Depending on the size of your company, your human resources (HR) department might handle most of the new hire paperwork. However, if you’re a small business hiring for the first time, you’ll need to put together all new hire forms yourself.

No matter your process—and whether you have one or not—let’s get into what kind of new hire paperwork there is and how to improve the process as a whole.


What is New Hire Paperwork?

New hire paperwork includes all the forms and information an employee needs to provide before starting work. Legally, an employer must verify an employee’s identity during the new hire paperwork process.

In addition to these standard forms, your company may have other policies depending on their restrictions surrounding employee behavior and industry standards. In the healthcare industry, for example, the employer may require particular certifications or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training to ensure patient or customer safety.

Note: If you need assistance determining how to set up secure employee files, consult with an employment attorney so you’re sure to get it right for your industry as well as city, county, and state laws.

The new hire paperwork process could also trigger some verification procedures for the employer, such as checking with listed schools to ensure stated degrees and educational experiences are legitimate. Social media policies are also a common practice for employers today. While it’s unusual for a company to completely restrict the use of social media, they typically do set some guidelines for employees to follow.

An employee should acknowledge that they are informal ambassadors of the organization at all times. This means it’s advisable to include agreements that prohibit posting or following inflammatory content that supports hate crimes or other criminal activity.

Types of New Employee Forms

These forms come in three primary categories: government-mandated, company-mandated, and optional.

  • Government-mandated paperwork is legally required to ensure the employee submits things like tax forms and is verified as eligible to work in the United States. State and local information may also be required to assist in the payment of state and local taxes. Check with your attorney to be sure you’ve got everything you need prepared.
  • Company-mandated new hire paperwork includes things necessary for the employee to safely work at the business and protects both the company and the employee. This often includes employee non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), emergency contact info, and more.  Check with your attorney to be sure your documents are current under the law and applicable to the person’s role.
  • Optional new hire paperwork may include data that is helpful to the organization but not required. This can be things like shirt size for uniforms or demographic information. Collecting some employee information isn’t always appropriate, but employee-volunteered information can be useful for your company’s hiring metrics. Volunteered, optional info could include things such as veteran or disability status.  Check with your attorney to be sure what you’re asking for is appropriate under the law and applicable to the person’s role.

Disability Accommodation Information

It is also important to collect information about an employee’s accommodation needs during the new hire paperwork phase. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the employer must provide reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee.

Examples of ADA accommodations may include things like:

  • An ergonomic chair
  • Additional or adjusted break times
  • Office around fluorescent lighting

Why Do New Employees Need to Fill Out Paperwork?

New hire paperwork is required to ensure compliance with government and company regulations. Having everything on the record is an honest way to ensure a professional relationship between the company and the employee. Having a contract and all employee records on file ensures an accurate paper trail should you need them for any legal issues in the future.

Federal and State New Hire Forms

Employers should include the following federal and state new hire forms in your new hire paperwork. If your employee has questions about filling out the forms, they can consult their accountant for advice. You should not offer financial or legal advice as their employer.

These new hire paperwork forms include:

Form I-9

This government form ensures employment eligibility. An employee must be a citizen, legal resident, or documented person to accept work in the United States.

Form W-4

This form ensures an employer can withhold money from their pay to contribute to taxes from their paycheck. This allows you to withhold the money and submit it to the IRS or appropriate authorities as required.

Form W-9

This IRS form collects the taxpayer identification number (TIN), which is typically the employee’s social security number (SSN).

Once the employee has completed these federal forms, they should move on to the following:

Equal Opportunity Data Form

This form is from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEO-1 form includes information about a person’s gender and race. Note that some employees may identify as nonbinary and may prefer they/them pronouns.

State Tax Withholding Form

A State Tax Withholding Form, also known as a State W-4, allows the employer to perform tax collection at the state level. Please note that this form varies by state so, you should consult your company’s tax professional when hiring employees from different states.

New Hire Reporting

Your company must report the hiring of new employees to the state. This is done in the event that an employee is subject to backup withholding, child support payments, and other situation. This process varies by state, but most states require reporting within 20 days of the hiring.

Download our Free Onboarding Checklist for Hiring Managers. Keep track of your onboarding tasks to help make the onboarding process great for your new hire.

Internal New Hire Forms

Your company can also collect data from new employees. This establishes positive communication and a habit of interactions and information between the employer and the new employee.

If you are asking for this new hire paperwork to be filled out before the employee’s start date, make sure to provide them with a deadline for completion.

Offer Letter

This is the offer of employment. It includes expected work hours, salary to be paid, any bonuses at sign-on, and employee status (for example, full-time employee or FTE). Employees should sign and date this to formally accept the job offer. Many employers permit 24 hours to one business week for an employee to decide to accept or decline an offer.

Employee Agreement

An employee agreement details the relationship between the employee and the employer. For example, this could include the hours an employee is expected to work, the employee’s location, the vacation agreement, and any limitations on the information that can be shared (confidential or proprietary information).

  • Non-Disclosure Agreement: Sometimes presented as an addendum to an employee agreement, the Non-Disclosure Agreement prohibits specific types of information that is not allowed to be shared outside the company. While this often includes proprietary information, it could get into more specifics in certain industries, such as research or defense.
  • Non-Compete Agreement: The Non-Compete Agreement outlines and defines whether the employee can work for other companies that conduct similar business. Typically, this agreement allows employees to take outside work (or freelance work) and develop their own side business. There are usually unique rules that apply, though. Some employers may also ask employees to provide information about any other organization they work with.

Background Check

The employee background check form serves as the employee’s consent to a background check. This reveals whether an employee has been convicted of a felony.

Employee Benefits Documents

The Employee Benefits Document discloses what benefits are included with the position. This might be medical insurance, 401K accounts, paid time off, legal insurance, and other benefits the employee may opt into. It also gives responsibility to the employee for signing up directly with the benefits organization in some cases.

Employee Handbook Acknowledgment

This form signifies that the employee has attested to receiving and reading the employee handbook in full.

Drug and/or Alcohol Testing Agreement

If your organization requires drug testing, this form gives employee consent. After they sign this form, you should provide them with the information needed to go to a lab and get tested.

Direct Deposit Authorization

In order to have a paycheck deposited directly into their bank account, employees should complete the direct deposit authorization form. They will also need to provide the bank account number and the routing number for direct deposit.

Union Agreements

If there is a union involved with your company, they may have their own new hire paperwork for the new employee to file. The union typically requires that dues come directly out of an employee’s paycheck. It also lists the rights and responsibilities the employee has as a member of the union as well as the union representative contact information.

Personal Data and Information for the Employer

In case of an emergency, there may be information your employees want to provide you with. Since they spend a significant amount of time at work, it is a good idea to have this emergency information on hand in case something happens. This includes:

  • Emergency contact information: In case of a medical emergency, you should have information about who to contact. This could be the employee’s parent, spouse, sibling, or roommate.
  • Brief medical history: While it’s not legal to ask for medical history, you may ask the employee if they want to volunteer it in case there is an emergency. Note that you cannot force an employee to disclose a disability.
  • Food allergies or preferences: Knowing about food allergies and dietary preferences is crucial when planning company functions to avoid an emergency situation. This is also important to respect people’s beliefs regarding the consumption of alcohol, diet preferences such as being vegan, etc.

New Hire Questionnaire

This might include information about employee preferences, accessibility requirements, and other data you’d like to collect, such as asking them about schools attended or previous employers.

Tips to Streamline New Employee Paperwork

New hire paperwork is an extensive process, and many employees have questions while they’re filling it out. This is especially true for those who don’t have a lot of job experience. To streamline the process, you can:

Create a New Hire Paperwork Checklist

Ensure you have all the necessary paperwork and signatures by creating a checklist for accuracy. If you’re there with the new hire in person, consider checking off all new hire paperwork items with them present. The HR representative and the employee should review the checklist and sign to certify that the new hire paperwork is completed. Ensure your new hire gets access to copies of the paperwork.

Bring in the Technology

It has never been easier to find software or other tools to help onboard your new employees.

Automating the paperwork process can save you and your HR team time and it lets your employee focus on learning the ropes of your company and their new position. Plus, there’s less chance of someone else mis-keying essential data when the employee enters it all themselves.

Rather than inundating new hires with a large stack of human resources forms on day one, managers can use software to send paperwork in advance that can be completed in a pre-boarding process before they even start. Note that some roles, especially hourly ones, will require that your new employee complete these documents on day one.

Hire Through a Staffing Agency

When you work with a staffing agency like Insight Global to hire new employees, they can handle all the paperwork for you.

It’s a good idea to discuss any specific requirements your company may have for new hire paperwork with the agency in advance. This will ensure you have everything you need to easily onboard all new employees.

New Hire Paperwork Is Crucial When Onboarding New Employees

Using these tips can help to ensure you have the proper documentation and forms for every new hire for your business.

Whether you hire employees directly or partner with a staffing agency to fill the role, you need to collect all of these required forms and necessary employee information. This critical new hire paperwork makes up an employee’s file which may be referred to throughout their employment for needed information. Again, it’s always a good idea to consult with your attorney, just to be sure you’ve covered all your legal and HR bases.

If you need a hiring partner, connect with Insight Global. We can handle the entire hiring process for you, including the new hire paperwork.

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