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What Documentation Do You Need for Each New Hire?

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

Bringing on a new hire requires a lot of paperwork, but doesn’t have to be a headache. The easiest way to simplify the process is to buy some cheap folders and make packets that include a checklist and all the forms and information you’ll need for each new hire.

By creating your own new hire packets you can save time tracking down all that information when you need it. Government websites also provide you with free copies of each form that you can copy for each packet.

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need:

1. W-4 Federal Income Tax Withholding

This form records how much should be withheld from each employee’s taxes based on exemptions. The employee will fill out how many exemptions they will be claiming on their taxes.

This form should be filled out prior to your new employee’s first check to ensure you are properly withholding taxable income from the start.

The IRS’s form can be found here.

You cannot tell your employees how they should fill this form out, but you can help them find resources to complete the form, such as this handy withholding calculator created by the IRS to help employees make the right deduction decisions for their personal situations.

Employees may change exemptions on W-4 forms whenever they see fit. The most recent version should be kept on file by the employer.

2. I-9 Employment Eligibility

The federal government requires that employers check the eligibility of all candidates to work in the United States. This will require reviewing each employee’s identification to ensure that they are valid and meet the ID criteria.

This form must be completed within three days of hire. This does not need to be submitted to the federal government, but must be on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after termination, whichever is later.

This form may be completed electronically through E-Verify, which allows you to cross-check information with the federal government’s database.

Have your new employee fill out this form from the government to ensure you collect all the right information. When completing the form, your employee is stating that he or she is able to legally work in the country, and it is up to you to examine his or her identification as proof of your employee’s ability to work. You will also sign the form saying that to the best of your knowledge the identification provided is valid.

This form also lists acceptable forms of identification you can use to verify your employee’s eligibility to work in the country. This list should be provided to employees so they can decide what types of identification to bring. You cannot tell employees what type of identification to bring or deny their right to use each type, but you can help them understand the list.

Employees may bring you one form of identification from List A on the form, which includes passports and employment authorization documents containing a photo, OR one item from List B AND one from List C. These are commonly a driver’s license or voter ID card from List B and a social security card or birth certificate from List C.

3. Social Security Number

The government requires that employers get the names and social security numbers of their new employees. Ask your employees to show you their social security cards. You may choose to keep a photocopy on hand for your records, but it is not required.

You’ll have to have your employees legal names and social security numbers when you fill out their W-2s recording their earnings for the year for their taxes.

4. Emergency Information

This may not be a legal requirement, but don’t wait until you need it to gather your employees’ emergency contact information. Ask your employees on their first day who you should contact in case of an emergency, and keep this information on file for all employees.

5. Policy Forms

Many companies provide new hires with policy forms that outline specific types of behavior that are prohibited in the workplace. These types of forms often include drug-free work place information or sexual harassment policies.

Depending on your business, you may also want to provide employees with lists of business-specific policies that might include information on uniform requirements, safety rules for machinery, or other procedures that apply to your business.

6. New Hire Reporting

All new hires must be reported to your state’s new hire reporting program within 20 days of the employees hire or rehire date.

To find out what the requirements are in your state, check this page created by the Small Business Administration with each state’s guidelines.

7. State Forms

Depending on your state, you may be required to gather other information, such as state income tax withholding information. Make sure to research your state’s new hire guidelines to determine what else is needed and include those forms in your packet.


  • Don’t wait until the deadline to complete paperwork. Each form has a different deadline, and it can be hard to keep up with which is due when. Complete all the paperwork with the employee on his or her first day, and file or submit it appropriately that day.
  • You can also make a checklist for employees outlining all information you’ll need from them so they can bring the appropriate IDs.
  • You can also find software online to make the process easier if you are bringing on several employees at once.
  • Keep a separate blank packet that you use to make new copies from when you use all your packets.
  • Standards for new hire documentation change, so make sure you stay up to date on any new requirements or changes in forms.



Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood

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