Top Ten Tips Disclaimer
The best time to obtain employees' agreement to something, or to get them to sign required government documents, is before they are hired, or at the very start of employment. A good way to handle this is to have an appropriate staff member, such as the office manager or a human resources department employee, meet with the new employee before any work begins and have the new hire fill out the various forms. The following is a list of the required and optional documents that companies most commonly include in the new hire packet.
I-9 form - this is needed for all new hires in order to document that they are authorized to work in the United States (download the form here)
W-4 form - this form is for obtaining basic payroll tax information from an employee and enables the company to know how many exemptions to use when computing withholding tax for IRS purposes (download the form here)
notice of workers' compensation coverage - whether the company carries workers' compensation insurance or not, it must notify new hires one way or the other (download either the notice of coverage (English or Spanish) or the notice of non-coverage (English or Spanish))
consent for background checks, if not already obtained - the best time to obtain this is prior to hiring someone, so that the check can be done before making the hiring decision, but better late than never, since prior notice of background checks and consent are required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if the check is done by an outside, for-profit service (an alternative form is here)
Optional, but recommended:
acknowledgement of receipt of policy handbook (an alternative form, combined with consents to searches and video surveillance, is here)
consent for drug testing / consent to search policy, if the company does such things
consent for video surveillance, if the company conducts such surveillance
agreements regarding pay, wage deductions, benefits, schedule, work location, and so on (with employment-at-will disclaimers (see the topic on pay agreements for an example))
documents needed to claim potential benefits associated with hiring applicants from certain targeted groups (see http://www.twc.state.tx.us/customers/bemp/train-your-workforce.html)
In addition to the paperwork, other steps that the employer needs to take at the time or right after an employee starts work are:
Enter the employee into the payroll system. For employee ID purposes, try to use an alpha-numeric identifier other than a Social Security number - both government agencies and private-sector experts advise employers to minimize the use and publication of SSNs for anything other than wage reporting and payroll tax purposes.
Make the new hire report within 20 days of hire - it can be done online at https://portal.cs.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/employer.
Sign the employee up for any insurance or other benefits the company may offer.
Issue the employee any ID or access cards needed to access company facilities.
Issue company equipment, uniforms, and other items - consider using a property return security deposit agreement to minimize the risk of damage or non-return of such property.
Remember that new hire orientation periods will involve compensable time worked.
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