New employees want to feel like part of the team. What better way to welcome them than with a complete new hire packet that offers all the information employees need to get started with the company?
An essential onboarding item, your new hire packet will set expectations by covering your obligations as an employer and your new hire’s responsibilities as an employee. The contents of your new hire packet will vary depending on your state, number of employees, and industry.
There are a handful of required forms and at a minimum, your new hire packet should include Forms I-9 and W-4. But there may also be state-specific forms you are required to have your new employee complete.
Form 1-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires all new hires to complete and sign Section 1 of Form I-9, which is used to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States. The employee must give you the form by his/her first day of work, but not before he/she has accepted the job offer. Note that the employer must fill out and sign Section 2 of the I-9 within three days of the employee’s start date.
You are not required to submit or file forms I-9 with the government. Keep your employees’ I-9 forms on file in a secured on-site location for three years after the date of hire or one year after the termination date, whichever is longer. Note that I-9 forms must be kept in a location separate from employee personnel files and not combined with other documents and they must be available for inspection by authorized government employees upon request.
Note that the current version of Form I-9 has a March 31, 2016, expiration date. USCIS has asked employers to continue using this version of the form as they consider changes to the form. The public can review proposed changes and comment through April 27.
Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
The Internal Revenue Service states that every new hire must complete Form W-4, which helps you determine how much federal income tax to withhold from their wages. Have new hires complete the W-4 by the end of their first day of work.
Notice of Coverage Options
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must provide all new hires, including full-time and part-time employees, with a notice of coverage options, informing them of the Health Insurance Marketplace. In general, companies with annual sales of $500k or more, government agencies, hospitals, and schools are subject to the FLSA. The notice of coverage options is mandatory, even if you don’t offer health coverage. You can use one of the U.S. Department of Labor’s model notices for your new hire packet.
Since 41 states have a state income tax, it is likely you will need to include a state tax withholding form, a state version of the W-4, in your new hire packet.
Depending on the state, you may also need to include the following in the new hire packet:
- Withholding form for local income tax withholding
- Notice concerning workers’ compensation
- Notice on state disability insurance and paid family leave
- Wage theft prevention notice
- Sexual harassment notice
Contact your state labor office for clarification on which forms to provide to your new hires.
In addition to required forms, there are optional forms and documents you might consider including as part of your complete new hire packet.
A welcome letter can put your new hire at ease while providing a glimpse into your company’s culture. The greeting should be brief and enthusiastic. You might say that you’re looking forward to his/her arrival and the contributions he/she will make to the team. For greater impact, have his/her boss, an executive, or – depending on the size of the company – the entire staff sign the letter.
Background Screening Consent Form
By the time you send out the new hire packet, you may have already obtained the employee’s written consent to a background check. If not, include the background check consent form in the new hire packet.
If a credit check is part of your screening process for new hires, be sure to provide the Fair Credit Reporting Act summary of rights and include the appropriate credit reporting disclosures within your background screening consent form. Typically that includes offering to provide a copy of the final report to the employee and any state-specific language. Check with your background screening vendor, they may prefer that you use one of their consent forms.
Direct Deposit Form
If you offer direct deposit, enclose your authorization form. You can highlight the sections that the employee is required to fill out, such as account and routing numbers. If you have a payroll debit card program for employees who are unbanked and want a direct deposit account, include the paperwork in the new hire packet.
Employee Information Form
This is a concise, confidential form that makes it easy for you to access the employee’s general information – such as full name, birth date, Social Security Number, physical and mailing address, phone number, email and emergency contacts.
Policy Acknowledgement Forms
Need the new hire to agree to something in writing? Then put the form in the new hire packet. Agreements may pertain to:
- Drug testing
- Video surveillance
- Intellectual property
- Internet security
Employee Handbook and Sign-off Form
An employee handbook contains important information about a company and its expectations for the employee, such as code of ethics, antidiscrimination policies, benefits, time off and compensation. Include a sign-off sheet for the employee to acknowledge receipt of the employee handbook.
If you do not have an employee handbook, the Small Business Administration has resources to help employers create their own customized handbooks and recommends topics to cover to meet legal requirements.
Employee Benefits Enrollment Forms
Does your company offer benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and wellness programs? If so, include the options available to new employees in the new hire packet. Provide an overview of each benefit and enrollment instructions along with a schedule of eligibility dates.
New Hire Checklist
It’s a good idea to include a checklist of all the forms and notices contained in the new hire packet. Specify which documents should be signed and returned, along with due dates, so you and your employee can keep track of the status of all new hire paperwork.
For information about hiring your first employee, see You’ve Hired Your First Employee: Don’t Skip the Essential Next Steps.