How to Hire U.S. Employees the Right Way: 6 Things to Do After the Contract is Signed

You've worked hard laying the foundation of your business. Now's the time to start the daunting (and possibly lengthy) process of finding the perfect candidate for your growing business.

Finally, after months of scrolling through resumes and setting up coffee dates, you asked for this person’s hand (in work), and miraculously, they said “yes.”  You found the one — the employee that fits perfectly with your company.

It’s a magical feeling when someone believes in what you’re working toward and has the skills you’re looking for. However, once the honeymoon is over, all the legal and regulatory items you need to wrap your head around can be quite mystifying.

After you’ve dotted your ‘i’s are crossed your ‘t’s on the contract, be sure to do these 6 things next.

1. Get Your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Before you hired your new employee, did you get your own Employer Identification Number? Don’t fret! That’s completely okay because many people only need it after they hire their first worker.

Basically, an EIN is like your company’s version of a Social Security number.

It’s a unique nine-digit code that the IRS uses to identify you. You can use the number to snag business permits, open up business bank accounts, and other company-related tasks.

If you don’t have an EIN, don’t stress — you can pick one up in just a few minutes. Head over to the IRS EIN portal, fill in your information, and hit “submit.” An EIN is 100% free, so be sure to ignore any services that charge a fee. For more information about what you can do with your special number, check out this guide from the IRS.

2. Decorate Your Space — With Posters From the Department of Labor (DOL)

No, I’m not talking about all the frayed posters you taped up in your college dorm room (although that would be pretty cool). For this step, I’m referring to the state labor laws that require businesses to display posters spelling out what their employees’ rights are.

Usually these posters are put up in common areas, like the kitchen, so more people can see them as they’re walking by. Visit the DOL’s Poster Advisor website to get a quick explanation of all the posters you need to flaunt in your workspace.

3. Stay Compliant by Using the Correct Employee Forms

Is your EIN in order? Posters looking pretty? Way to go. It’s now time to give two crucial forms to your new hire.

Some online payroll providers will handle this for you automatically, but it’s important to know your requirements regardless. Here’s what you (or your provider) is doing with these two forms:

Determining your employee’s withholding amount:

A W-4 form is used to record how much your new hire is going to withhold on their taxes. Your employee’s withholding tax is paid to the IRS every pay period, and can be deciphered by using the IRS’s handy withholding calculator. A good way to remember how long you need to keep the form is hidden right inside the name: four years.

Remember that you don’t need to submit the W-4 anywhere, you just have keep it on file for the entire time your employee is on the team, or four years — whatever turns out to be longer.

Certifying their citizenship or eligibility to work in the US:

Is your employee legally allowed to work in this country?

A simple (and necessary) way to answer this question is by giving them Form I-9 to fill out. Tackle this step within three days of your worker’s start date to make sure you’re in the clear.

Like the W-4, you don’t need to mail it off to the IRS, but you do have to hold on to it for the whole time your employee is on staff. Another way to confirm your employee’s work status is to use e-Verify, the Department of Labor’s online verification tool.

4. Let Your State Know About Your New Hire

Whenever you meet someone amazing, your first desire is probably to shout it from the rooftops. Funny enough, you can — and are legally required to. In every state, there’s a dedicated department that records when every new person joins a company.

Generally, you’ll have to let the agency know the basics about your employee: name, address, and Social Security number. You could have anywhere between a couple days to a few months to relay this information to them, so be sure to consult your state’s new hire reporting website for the complete lowdown.

5. Get Your Payroll in Check

Your employee has been a part of the team for a few days now, and you’re ready to show them how much you appreciate all their heart and smarts. That sounds great, but how exactly do you do that?

The first step is to pay them, and in order to do that, you need to select a payroll provider.

Think about how involved you want to be in the process. You can either manage it all on your own with an automated service, or let your accountant take it off your plate entirely. You can also decide to do a blend of both, sort of like payroll potpourri. For example, you may want to include your accountant in most of the tasks, while you can help out by inputting basic employee information.

Whatever payroll composition you decide on, make sure you select a solution that allows you to do exactly what you want.

Another piece of the puzzle involves paying the appropriate payroll taxes, which many payroll solutions will manage for you. Here’s a quick overview of the important forms you should know about:

    • Form 941: Every quarter, you’ll need to fill out Form 941 to report your withholdings, Medicare, and Social Security taxes to the IRS.
    • Form 940: This form calculates your Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax. You only have to send this form in annually, but your FUTA tax needs to be paid on a quarterly basis.
    • State withholding forms: Most states also require employers to withhold state income tax, so this form tells your state how much you withheld. Visit your state government website to see which form you need for your particular area.

6. Get Workers’ Compensation Insurance

After you hire someone for the first time, you may have to provide them with workers’ comp insurance. Simply put, this type of insurance policy protects anyone who gets hurt while they’re at work.

There are certain industries that are riskier than others — landscaping or construction, for example — so your workers’ comp requirements also depends on the kind of space your company operates in. Check out this state-by-state breakdown to see what you need to do.

Once you take care of each of these six steps, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. No, your job isn’t over, in fact, it’s really just begun. But after you deal with all these essentials, you and your new teammate are one step closer to achieving what you set out to do all along.

Have your own hiring story to share? Tell us in the comments below!

This is an archived post from the FreshBooks Blog and was originally published in January 2016.

about the author

Gusto Tomer London is responsible for the development and execution of the product vision at Gusto, re-imagining how modern payroll, benefits, and compliance should operate.