The Complete ‘New Hire Paperwork Checklist’ for Your U.S. Small Business

All the new hire paperwork you need when you hire a new team member.


There’s a lot that goes into finding and hiring the perfect person for your team. From scrolling through resumes and LinkedIn profiles and managing the interview process to reaching out to references and making the offer.

But once the offer has been extended and your new employee has accepted (yay!), there’s one more task to tackle—and that’s getting all their new hire paperwork in order.

Let’s take a look at all the paperwork you need to collect when you bring a team member on board—and how to make the process as simple, efficient and streamlined as possible.

The New Hire Paperwork You’re Legally Required to Collect

There is some paperwork you’ll want to have on file for your new employee (more on that later)—but there’s also paperwork you’ll need to have on file.

If your business is based in the U.S., there are a few forms you’re required by law to collect from your new employees, including:

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification

Form I-9 is a form used to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S.—and, as an employer, there are two things you need to do to comply with employment eligibility laws.

First, your new hire must complete Form I-9 with relevant personal information, including their name, birthdate, social security number, address and citizenship status. The employee must also list the documents they’ll be providing to verify their eligibility to work in the U.S. (for example, an American passport or permanent resident card).

Then, you’ll need to collect your employee’s I-9—and employers must review their documents and confirm they’re eligible to work in the U.S.

Once you’ve collected the form and reviewed the employee’s documents, there’s nothing else you need to do (like send the form to the IRS); you’ll just want to have it on file as proof that you verified each employee’s eligibility before they started working for your business.

If you employ a ton of people or you’re doing a major hiring push, you should definitely consider using the E-Verify system, which allows you to verify your new hire’s employment eligibility electronically.

Form W-4

A W-4 form is used for tax purposes to record how much your new hire is going to withhold in taxes. Because your employee’s tax withholding is paid to the IRS every pay period, it’s important to collect this form prior to your employee’s first paycheck.

Similar to Form I-9, you don’t need to send your new hire’s W-4 form to the IRS (or anywhere else); you just need to keep it on file. It’s also important to note that your employee can opt to change their income tax withholdings at any time—in which case, they’d need to submit a new W-4.

SSN

According to the IRS, all employers are “required to get each employee’s name and Social Security number (SSN) and to enter them on Form W-2.” While you’re not required, the IRS also suggests asking to see your employee’s Social Security card and making a copy to keep on file.

State Withholding Forms

Just like a federal W-4 outlines how much to withhold for your employee’s federal taxes, a state W-4 form outlines how much to withhold in state taxes.

Not all states require employees to fill out a state withholding form. But if your business operates in a state that does require it, you’ll need to collect a completed form from your new hire before their first paycheck.

(If you’re not sure if your state requires you to collect a state withholding form from your employees, make sure to check your state government website for further information.)



The New Hire Paperwork You’ll Want to Collect for HR Purposes

So, from a legal perspective, collecting your new hire’s SSN, I-9 and W-4 form (and, when applicable, a state W-4) is non-negotiable. But just because that’s all the documentation you’re legally required to collect doesn’t mean that’s the only paperwork you’ll want to have on hand for your newest team member.

Some additional paperwork you should consider collecting from your employees include:

Emergency Contact Information

Hopefully, your new employees will never experience an emergency at work. But, if they do, you want to know who you should get in touch with—and have their contact information handy.

When you hire an employee, ask them to provide at least one emergency contact and to share any relevant contact details (including name, phone number and email address). That way, if there is some sort of emergency at work, you’ll have the information you need to alert the right person.

Benefits Forms

If you provide any employee benefits, you’ll also want to have your incoming team member fill out any benefits forms along with their onboarding paperwork. This includes forms for any type of employee benefit, including health insurance, life insurance, or retirement plans.

Acknowledgement of Employee Handbook

If you have an employee handbook, you should plan to give every new hire a copy—and make sure they sign an acknowledgement that they a) received the handbook and b) agree to abide by any policies it outlines.

Policy Forms

If you don’t have an employee handbook, you’ll want to have your employees sign any relevant policy forms as part of their onboarding paperwork. These forms should outline the policy (for example, a sexual harassment policy or an attendance policy), the penalty for not complying with the policy, and require a signature acknowledging the employee has read and understands the policy.

Depending on your company structure, you may also want to have your new hires sign business-related policy forms, like nondisclosure or noncompete agreements.

Direct Deposit Information

If you plan to pay your employee via direct deposit, you’ll need to have them fill out a form with their bank account information (including routing number and account number).

How to Make the New Hire Paperwork Process As Efficient As Possible

Want to make sure your onboarding paperwork process is as streamlined and efficient as possible? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Have employees fill out their paperwork on day one. You want to get all your employees’ new hire paperwork filled out while they’re still a new hire. And the best way to do that? Have them fill everything out on day one. By making any relevant paperwork part of your employees’ first-day onboarding process, you can ensure nothing falls through the cracks—and no important document goes unread or unsigned.
  • Keep a checklist for each employee. When you’re hiring a number of new hires, it can be easy to forget what documents you need to collect, when you need to collect them by, and if, when and where you need to submit them. Having a checklist for each employee can help you keep everything straight—and make sure that you collect and submit all necessary paperwork in a timely manner.
  • Stay organized. If your business is audited, you want all your paperwork to be complete, organized and easily accessible. Make sure you have a system in place to keep all your employee files (including new hire paperwork) in order.
  • Review all paperwork at least once a year. Things change—and the longer employees are with your company, the more likely it is that information within their employee paperwork (like emergency contact information, address, or tax withholdings) will change as well. Make sure you let your employees know to alert you of any changes—and have human resources review their documents at least once a year to make sure everything is up-to-date.

Use This Checklist to Stay on Top of Your New Hire Paperwork

Collecting the proper new hire paperwork is critical—both from a legal and a business operations perspective. But now that you know exactly what paperwork you need to collect from your new hires, you have everything you need to stay organized—and ensure your new hire paperwork process goes off without a hitch.

This post was updated in October, 2020.



about the author

Freelance Contributor Deanna deBara is an entrepreneur, speaker, and freelance writer who specializes in business and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, she enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dog. See more of her work and learn more about her services at deannadebara.com.