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9 Important Onboarding Documents for New Hires

Lauren DeBisschop
Feb 6, 2024
10 min

The New Hire Checklist: Essential Documents for a Smooth Onboarding

Table of Contents:

The first days of a new job are crucial for both the employee and employer. To make this transition as smooth as possible, there are several important onboarding documents you'll need to collect from your new hires.

We've put together a comprehensive list to help your human resources team prepare and organize these documents effectively. This list serves as an excellent starting point to ensure everything is ready for when your next new employee begins.

Onboarding Documents Needed for New Hires

Onboarding is the process of completing the necessary steps to legally and officially hire a new employee. This process typically involves standard documents including multiple tax forms, role-specific documents like offer letters and employment contracts, and company-specific documents such as employee handbooks.

  1. Form W-4

Form W-4 is an important document used to determine the amount of federal income tax withheld from an employee's paycheck. This form captures vital information including the employee's filing status, adjustments for multiple jobs, credit amounts, other income, deductions, and any extra withholding amount.

Every employee is required to complete this form to ensure accurate federal tax withholding.

  1. State tax withholding form, if applicable

Depending on the state where the employee works, it may be required for them to complete state-specific withholding forms for state income tax. This ensures that the correct amount of state tax is withheld from their paychecks, adhering to the individual tax laws and regulations of that state.

  1. Form I-9

Form I-9, known as the Employment Eligibility Verification, is a document required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Established under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, this form is used to verify the identity and legal work authorization of all employees in the United States.

Employers must ensure that all their employees complete Form I-9.

  1. Benefits Forms

New employees may need to complete various forms for benefit enrollment, depending on what your business offers. This typically includes forms for health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits. While these forms are often filled out during the onboarding process, it's not necessarily mandatory for all of them to be completed at this stage.

Many benefits programs have a specific enrollment period after the employee starts their new job, so it's important for employers to communicate these timelines clearly. This helps to ensure employees understand their options and complete the necessary paperwork by the designated deadlines.

  1. Offer Letter

For new employees, the job offer letter serves as an initial introduction to their position. This letter typically provides a concise overview of the job role, start date, work schedule, and other key details. This document is important for setting clear expectations and ensuring that employees have a solid understanding of the responsibilities of their new position before they begin.

  1. Employee Contract

An employee contract is a comprehensive document that outlines the terms of employment. It should clearly detail the job responsibilities, position terms, wage, and other relevant employment conditions.

This contract is critical, helping employees clearly understand their job duties and expectations. It provides a foundation for a transparent and mutually understood working relationship.

  1. Direct Deposit Information

It is important to gather banking details during the onboarding process, as over 95% of U.S. workers receive paychecks via direct deposit. This ensures that an employee's first paycheck is processed smoothly and arrives on time. Additionally, having this information early on helps prevent future payment delays and simplifies the payroll process for both the employee and the employer.  

  1. Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is a key resource for important information about the company's culture, benefits, time off policies, and more.

New employees should read and understand the handbook to align with the company's values and policies. Getting employees to confirm they've read and understood the handbook also highlights how important this information is.

  1. Company policies

Depending on your organization's policy, it may be necessary for each employee to formally acknowledge that they have reviewed your company's policies. Typically, this involves obtaining the employee's signature. Such a practice ensures that everyone is aware of and understands the company's rules and expectations, fostering a well-informed and compliant workplace environment.

Accurately Classifying New Hires During Onboarding

Assigning the correct worker classification to new hires during the onboarding process is crucial, as hiring an employee or a contractor involves significantly different legal and tax responsibilities.

When a worker is classified as an independent contractor, they are not covered by the legal protections provided to employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including benefits and overtime pay, and might encounter additional tax responsibilities.

For employers, it is vital to adhere to the necessary legal regulations when hiring independent contractors. The FLSA offers specific guidelines for distinguishing between employees and contractors. Misclassifying an employee as a contractor can lead to serious consequences, including the obligation to pay back wages, penalties, and extra taxes.

Understanding the rules of worker classification is essential for maintaining accurate payroll and HR records. The classification of a worker, whether as a nonexempt employee, an exempt employee, or an independent contractor, directly affects their tax withholdings, eligibility for benefits, and entitlement to overtime pay. Failure to correctly classify workers can lead to costly penalties.

Using Employee Self Service for Onboarding

An employee self-service portal streamlines the onboarding process for new hires. It provides them with the autonomy to complete many steps independently. For key documents, these portals allow new hires to view and complete forms electronically, eliminating the need for paper copies and enhancing the overall efficiency of the process.

Moreover, by storing these onboarding documents in the cloud, the portal ensures they are always accessible. Employees can easily revisit important documents, such as their W-4, to review or submit updates after their initial hire. This accessibility not only saves time but also simplifies document management for both employees and HR departments.

Case Study Highlight: Optimizing HR Processes with Greenshades

Coda Search, an executive search firm based out of New York City, experienced first-hand the impact of Greenshades’ efficient solution. After implementing the Greenshades Payroll & HR Platform, Coda Search enhanced their HR operations, including onboarding.

Greenshades transforms the HR experience for Coda Search employees, creating a centralized hub for all HR needs – ranging from onboarding paperwork to company manuals. The HR portal provided by Greenshades ensures immediate access to essential HR documents, streamlining the process with just a few simple clicks

Key advantages of Coda Search’s use of Greenshades also include:

  • Centralized HR Hub: The solution acts as a one-stop-shop, centralizing various HR processes.
  • Automated Form Distribution: Employees and HR teams are always up-to-date with automatic notifications and distribution of forms and information.
  • Streamlined Approvals: The system simplifies and speeds up approval processes, making HR tasks more efficient and less time-consuming for the team at Coda Search.

By leveraging the features of the Greenshades platform, Coda Search has effectively optimized its HR and onboarding processes, resulting in a more organized, efficient, and employee-friendly HR system.  

Read the Full Case Study

Elevate the Onboarding Process with Greenshades

Greenshades’ Payroll and HR solution simplifies every step of the new hire process. Utilize features including document management, workflow customization, and more to provide a seamless onboarding experience.

  • Streamline Setup: Enable new employees to begin immediately without the need for creating an account.
  • Track Progress: Allow employees to conveniently pause and resume the onboarding process, offering flexibility to fit their schedule.
  • Customize Workflows: Tailor the onboarding experience to suit different roles.
  • Adapt Easily: Provide access to the onboarding process on any device, ensuring smooth and easy completion of documents.
Ensure your team can focus on welcoming new employees rather than managing paperwork. Contact us today.
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