Immediately after hiring a new employee in your business, you and the person you hired are  responsible for an onslaught of employee onboarding forms. If some of the employee information is not provided, the new team member cannot legally begin work. They also cannot receive their first paycheck or earn a benefits package from you. 

However, you may not have a human resources team as a small business. Without one it can be difficult to keep track of what needs to be done to onboard new hires.

Each of the employee onboarding process forms must be completed by every employee that works for you. In this article, we will cover the required forms you need to be completed, as well as a few optional forms that are considered best practice to implement into your onboarding program. 

We’ll also cover the federal regulations on how to store these forms. Remember, this is not official legal advice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding new employee onboarding checklists and forms, it’s best to consult an employment attorney. 

Register as an employer 

If you’re hiring employees for the first time for your new business, you must first register with the IRS as an employer before you or your HR team can even begin to set up your onboarding plan. The two-step process looks like this: 

  1. Employer ID Number: When you register with the IRS as an employer, you’ll get an Employer ID Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. Your EIN is required for payroll tax reports and payments. You can apply online for your EIN by visiting the IRS Employer ID Numbers webpage
  2. IRS Payment System: After you’ve registered with the IRS and received an EIN, the next step is to join the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). This is where you will deposit taxes from both employee check withholdings and from your business. You can join by visiting EFTPS.gov

Once you’re all squared away with the IRS, it’s time to collect the forms you need when you’re ready to hire new employees. 

Form W-4

The purpose of the Form W-4 is to determine the employee’s federal income tax withholding. The information the employee gives you on the form will tell you how much you should withhold from his or her paycheck. 

New hires must complete this form before they can receive their first paycheck. It’s important to remember that as an employer, you should never give employees advice on how to fill out the form. However, there is a helpful IRS article that answers frequently asked questions about the Form W-4. You can direct them to the link so they can make the best decision. 

The W-4 can be changed as many times as the employee wishes. One instance in which an employee may want to change their information is if they receive a bonus and want to alter their withholding. 

Keep track of the latest change made to any employee’s W-4, and make sure their paychecks reflect their withholding wishes. Also, make sure the employee’s Social Security number is correct on the form. You can do so using the Social Security Administration’s Verification Service

Download this employee onboarding form template here. You can also download the form in Spanish

Form I-9 and E-Verify 

You’ll need to verify and document your new hire’s eligibility to work in the United States. This is where the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification comes into play. Form I-9 must be completed by every new hire, and in order to do so, the employee must provide the appropriate documentation of identity and work eligibility. 

Filling out the I-9 form is a two-step process: 

  1. First, the employee states what identity and work eligibility documents he or she will use and fills out the form. 
  2. Next, you review the documents and verify they are adequate, and you fill out your part of the form.

It’s very important that you keep these records because failing to do so puts you at risk for heavy penalties from the federal government. 

Download this employee onboarding form PDF on the IRS website. You can also download the form in Spanish

The E-Verify system is an online system that allows employers (mainly employers with many team members, but anyone can use it) to confirm the eligibility of their staff to work in the U.S.  The Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security electronically matches the information against their records. 

E-Verify is voluntary, but if you have a federal contract or subcontract that contains the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the government requires you to enroll in the system. 

Direct deposit enrollment 

If you have direct deposit in place as your payment system among your team and your new employee wishes to enroll, he or she will need to fill out the form that your financial institution arrives. You can also ask them to provide a voided check. 

The direct deposit form should include: 

  • Bank account number 
  • Routing number 
  • Type of account (such as checking or savings)
  • Bank name and address
  • Name(s) of account holders 

Note: If you have an HR management platform in place, the system will take care of the required forms for you during the new hire’s onboarding, including W-4, I-9, direct deposit enrollment, and more. Consider implementing one of these easy systems to make your hiring process run a little smoother. 

Job application form 

Regardless of whether or not the employee submitted a resume, a job application form should also be completed. This way you can verify information the employee provides in the form, including previous employers and education background. 

Having the employee sign the form means that you are allowed to perform a background check, and their signature also means they are stating that the information on the application is accurate and honest. The application form is the best way to protect yourself as an employer from any potential fraudulent claims.  Download a generic application form.

State employment agencies 

You must register all new employees with your state’s new hire notification system—doing so allows the state to collect child support payments from the employee if needed. Check out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services webpage to learn more about how to register each new hire. 

If your state collects income taxes, you as the employer are subject to requirements for reporting and paying those taxes. Contact your state’s taxing agency to learn how to register as an employer. The agency will also provide information on required withholding forms and regulations on reporting and paying the withheld taxes. 

Your state government may also require you to register with your state’s labor department in order to pay state unemployment taxes. You pay this tax into a fund, and your employees receive the funds if you lay them off. Contact your state’s labor department to learn more about how to register.  

One last thing: You must register with your state’s worker’s compensation agency to pay into the fund that pays employees who  get sick or hurt on the job. Contact your state’s worker’s compensation agency to learn more about how to register. 

Employee handbook

As an employer, it’s a great idea and best practice to have a standard employee handbook that contains policies and procedures you and your employees follow. When you hire a new employee, give him or her a copy of the handbook and have them sign a contract that they have read the handbook and understand its contents. 

Once the employee has signed the handbook contract, it becomes a legally binding document between the two of you. If you have a policy manual in place, you can prevent potential issues in terms of disgruntled employees, and even possible lawsuits. 

If you don’t currently have a handbook in place or need any other employee onboarding templates, there are many services that can help you, such as Homebase’s HR Pro

How to store new hire forms 

In more cases, the government does not require you to submit employee onboarding forms to any sort of government agency. But you do need to hold on to them—failing to do so correctly can lead to heavy penalties. Keep the completed forms in a location that is accessible to both employees and anyone else who needs to take a look at them. 

Take a look at the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division’s recordkeeping requirements for employee records, as well as the IRS employment tax recordkeeping requirements to make sure you’re following all of the rules and staying compliant.  

To learn about how to optimize your onboarding process by implementing company culture and increasing employee satisfaction, take a look at our article on 5 steps to a successful employee onboarding experience