What Employment Forms are Needed for Hiring Hourly Workers?

You may have heard it said, "The job's not finished until the paperwork is done." Nothing is more true when it comes to hiring hourly employees. There are numerous forms and documents that the new hire needs to sign before beginning work. These documents must be understood by the new hire before signing them so in some cases, the forms may need to be translated into Spanish or other languages. There are tax forms, insurance requirement forms, proof of US citizenship forms, and many others the employer is responsible for ensuring they are completed correctly, and kept on file and in some cases, delivered to the appropriate government agency. In any case, before you hire your first hourly employee, or your next one, become familiar with what is required both federally as well as according to your local state agency requirements.

Here are 10 commonly used forms you become familiar with:
1. Employer Identification

We're assuming here that you are already set up to hire new employees, but if not, and for the sake of covering all bases, please make sure you have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to use on all forms you submit to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To obtain an EIN, simply go to the IRS website and download Form SS-4.
2. The Application

One of the most overlooked forms that should be given to the hourly worker is the job application. It seems obvious, but many employers hire new employees based on recommendations from current employees. This is usually a good practice, except when we fail to have the job candidate fill out a job application. The job application contains some useful information for you now and down the road. It serves as a layer of protection for both you and the hourly worker. There are segments of most job applications that include background check authorization and forces the applicant to (hopefully) include accurate information.
3. W-4 Withholding Allowance Certificate

The W-4 form is what the new hire fills out that tells you how many allowances they are claiming for tax purposes. This then becomes a guide letting you know the correct amount of tax to withhold from their paychecks. You can find a pdf version of the W-4 form here, as well as information on how to fill it out. This form also contains information on marital status and additional withholding amounts if the employee so chooses. It is a good idea to coach the employee along with they fill it out if it is new to them. This will save you, and the employee, many headaches down the road.
4. The I-9 Form

The I-9 form is a requirement for everyone in the company. It is a Employment Eligibility Verification form used to let the US government know that the new hire is eligible to work in the US. The I-9 form entails a two-step process. First, the employee fills out the form and states what identity and work eligibility documents they will use to verify their eligibility. Then, you as the employer must look at those documents and make sure they are adequate and appropriate.

The I-9 form must be kept separate from the employee file for up to three years. Employers can sign up for the E-Verify system and use it to conveniently check eligibility of new employees. E-Verify uses the information from the I-9 form to compare with information found on federal databases. You can sign up for E-Verify by going to the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services website.

When filling out the I-9 form, the employee must bring in original documents to prove their identity and employment eligibility. You need these documents in order to complete the employer section of Form I-9. There are three lists of acceptable documents in Form I-9: Lists A, B, and C. Employees bring in one document from List A that confirms their identity and employment authorization, such as a US passport. If they choose, they can bring in one document from List B that confirms their identity (e.g., driver's license) and one document from List C that verifies their employment authorization (e.g., US Citizen ID Card). You as the employer will need to certify that the documents are genuine to the best of your knowledge.
5. Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation ensures that employees who suffer from job-related injuries or illnesses receive needed medical care, and wage replacement while they are missing work. Workers' Compensation is available regardless of who is at fault, whether it's an employee, the employer, co-workers, or even customers. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, employees have limited rights to sue the employer for damages for those injuries. The new hire may or may not need to fill out and sign a form for Worker's Compensation, depending on the state you are hiring in as Workers' Compensation is a state-regulated program, and statutes in each state determine what kinds of injuries and ailments are covered.
6. State Tax Withholding Forms

If where your business is located has a state income tax, you will need to collect tax withholding forms from your new hires. Not all states have a state income tax, such as Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Alaska, New Hampshire, and Nevada, but some of those may be subject to change. The point is to be sure that if your state imposes a state tax, you need to have your new employees fill out a state tax withholding form. Just was with the W-4, the employee must enter their social security number, address and other pertinent information as well as the number of allowances they want to claim. Be sure to check with your state for more information.
7. Emergency Contact Form

Although this form isn't a requirement either by your state or federally, it is a good practice to collect an emergency contact name, number, and address for the new hire. In the event that something happens while at work, you have someone who can be notified to come pick up the employee or give that person information regarding the situation. Let's say the employee has a seizure while at work and must be transported by ambulance to the hospital. During the crisis, there is no time to gather information from the employee. You can simply go to the employee's file and find the emergency contact information and let them know of the situation.
8. Uniform Acceptance Form

This is another form not required, but highly recommended. The terms and agreements with the uniform provision depends on the company and how the uniform is being used. This form should make the uniform guidelines clear to the employee and that those guidelines must be followed and implemented as long as the employee is wearing the uniform provided to him or her by the company. Consequences because of damage to the uniform and not returning uniforms are typically spelled out clearly on this form including paycheck deductions in last paycheck to cover lost and damages.
9. Benefits Forms

These are forms used for the new hire to sign up for any offered benefits with the company. You should collect these forms even if the employee doesn't want to take part in any specific benefit. The benefit forms can cover benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance and any retirement or 401K plans your company might offer. You must provide information about the benefits offered to your employees and your employees must accept or deny participation into these programs.
10. Employee Handbook Acknowledgement Form

In most states, you don't have to have an employee handbook. However, if you do provide one, there are certain things you should include in the handbook including information about the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), information about Title VII and discrimination, the Family Medial Leave Act (FMLA), (if you have more than 50 employees), and others. The employee handbook is a guide for employees to refer to for understanding the history of the company, what is expected of the employee, and what the employee can expect from the employer. It is very important that after receiving the employee handbook, the employee sign an Acknowledgement Form stating that the employee has received the handbook, read it, and understands it.
Not Inclusive

The forms your new hires should sign are not limited to these ten. In fact, some companies use even more to cover all bases. For example, if your employees use company vehicles, you should have them sign a No Cell Phone Form, stating that they will not use their cell phones while driving company vehicles. Also, other companies have forms for employees to sign that they will not use tobacco products while working, or will not gossip while at work. Some of these toe the line regarding the legality of them, so be sure to check your state laws before you implement your own forms.

The point is that if you go to all the trouble of hiring the right candidate for the job, you want to ensure that everything possible is documented before the first day of work. It is a good idea to create a checklist of all the forms you need to have a new hire sign so that nothing is missed. Creating a hiring packet so everything is covered is simply smart business. Many businesses cover a lot of rules and regulations in their employee handbooks so when the employee signs for it, they've acknowledged acceptance and adherence to those guidelines, thus reducing the number of forms to be signed.
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