Knowing what you need from a new employee is a critical but intimidating part of the hiring process. You’ve gotten them to sign on the dotted line to work for you, but now on their first day, you are wondering what new employee forms you need to give and get from them?
We have the answers to your new employee forms questions here in this article, complete with free templates or resources for each piece we discuss. So go ahead and bookmark this page as an easy resource to come to every time you hire someone.
Please note that this article contains general information only, so you should consult your own legal professional before making any onboarding decisions. Let’s get started with what you absolutely, by law, need for your new hire.
Category 1: The Mandatory, No-Excuses, Must-Have Forms for A New Employee
There are 3 main areas of new employee forms that you must have for every employee you hire. Those are:
- Tax forms for state and federal (W-2 or W-4; 1099)
- I-9 for employment eligibility
- State specific disclosures
If you choose a payroll provider like Gusto or work with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like Justworks, they will ensure that the new hire fills out state and federal tax forms (or 1099 contractor forms), as well as an I-9. They also will include state-specific new hire disclosures to ensure you are compliant.
If you don’t have a payroll provider, you can find the following new employee forms and compile them yourself for your new employee:
- W-2– federal tax form required of employees who are 30 hours or more per week that reports earnings and tax deductions
- W-4– federal withholding form that tells you how much to withhold from an employee’s paycheck in taxes
- 1099 (and more useful information on when to use a 1099 versus a W-2)
- State tax forms- check your state for what you need to report for your new employee
- I-9 verification– this is the federal identity verification requirement for employees
For your state’s new hire disclosures list and for state-specific tax forms, we recommend visiting the tax agency website for your state.
The next category of forms is technically optional, but we heartily recommend that you consider them all mandatory and as a best practice as an employer.
Category 2: The Optional, but Shouldn’t Really Be Optional, New Employee Forms
This category should also just be called “HR Best Practices With New Hires”. Everything in this category, though it seems like a luxury or a nice to have to a small business owner, should really be in your must-have category. These are especially important for companies that are hiring full time salaried employees (with or without benefits).
- Signed offer letter
- Signed employment contract/agreement
- Non-compete agreement (NCA)
- Non disclosure agreement (NDA) or confidentiality agreement
- Employee handbook
- Emergency contact information
- Direct deposit form
If you have an hourly, part time business like a cafe or retail shop, we would still recommend that you consider the bottom 3 forms — employee handbook, emergency contact information, and direct deposit form.
You also will need a place to store all of these new employee forms, either in file folders (which we don’t recommend) or virtually, such as through a system like Gusto. Then, when it comes time to file your taxes, you will have everything in one place for your accountant.
To quickly expand on each of these and provide you a resource on where to get one:
- Signed offer letter– Here is a free offer letter template and how-to guide. Think of the offer letter as what you present when you want to hire someone. Once they have agreed to your offer, you can then move to the next forms, but not before that (or not at all if they say no).
- Signed employment agreement– Once someone has agreed to your offer, you will want to have them sign an employment agreement, which can also be referred to as an employment contract. Ensure they understand employment is at will.
- Non Compete Agreement (NCA)– Depending on your industry and what your company does, you might consider having an NCA. The short of it is that you might need one if you are worried an employee will take clients away from your business (like a personal trainer offering to charge less if clients come to his house over your gym) or if they would start their own thing and poarch your clients (like a social media marketing firm). Remember though, in some states like California, NCAs hold no water so don’t waste your time on one.
- Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or confidentiality agreement– The terms NDA and confidentiality agreement are nearly synonymous. If you work in an industry where you hold sensitive information or have some sort of secret sauce, like a social media marketing strategy or tech company, you will certainly want one of these in your new hire forms bucket to protect yourself.
- Employee handbook– Assuming is not a good idea when hiring a new employee. Don’t assume someone knows your dress code, all about tax deductions, or other things. Having an employee handbook, even a barebones one, sets a bar for employees and we provide a free template for you to work on.
- Emergency contact information– One time as an HR manager, we had an employee with chest pains at work. The person’s emergency contact information was not up to date, and they ended up alone in the hospital after we called 911 (their family even called the police when they didn’t come home from work). If this doesn’t convince you to get this information and store it somewhere, I don’t know what will.
- Direct deposit form– Running payroll with direct deposit or a paycard makes sense for everyone involved, yourself and the employee. Again, if you use one of our recommended payroll services, this should all be done automatically. We also recommend a best practice of requiring direct deposit only.
Regardless of your kind of business, storing all of these documents can get intimidating. If you work with Gusto or Justworks, you can create a custom onboarding process for every new employee with all of these documents automatically sent to them for signing and completion. Better yet, you can see if they did it or not!
The next section is geared towards business in unique industries like healthcare, childcare, or finance and the forms you might need based on your industry.
Category 3: The Special Case Scenario Forms
There are some new employee forms that you may need to add onto your new hire paperwork depending on your size, your industry, or your company needs. You can obtain these before or during orientation or include them in your new hire checklist.
- EEOC data form (if you have more than 100 people)
- Background check results (industry-dependent)
- Credit check results (industry-dependent)
- Drug test results (industry-dependent)
- Job application form (company-dependent)
Let’s address each of these and the situations you might need them in a table form.
Special Case Scenario New Hire Forms Table
|New Hire Form||Who Needs It||Cost|
|Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Form||Large Companies of 100 employees or more.||None; just time. It can also be a part of your onboarding process through a provider like Gusto.|
|Background Check||If your business is in education/child care, financial services, hospitality, government work, healthcare, gaming, or caregiving, you should be conducting background checks||GoodHire runs a great service for around $60/check; you can also buy in bulk to save money. You can read more about background check providers in our buyer’s guide.|
|Credit Check||Any companies in the financial space, including accounting and mortgage brokers, or related to the government, military, or police, should be conducting credit checks.||A credit report add on to a background check is $15 at GoodHire|
|Drug Test Check||Any business that deals with transportation or safety concerns, like construction, usually drug tests. The Department of Transportation may require it for certain companies.||Drug tests start at $60 each at GoodHire (and increase in price with the more substances included).|
|Job Application Form||Companies with high turnover may require job application forms (if they haven’t filled one out already) for accurate tracking and paperwork (like a restaurant who might hire someone on the spot who walks into the business).||Free; here’s a template we made|
Finally, we will address what companies might include if they really want to “wow” a new hire and create a great first impression, as well as set up a company culture that really attracts the best talent.
Category 4: The Ideal Work Environment (aka Bonus Points)
This is where we start cooking with gas. Here we are talking about new hire forms that you don’t need by law or even by standard practice, but instead you have them at that higher level where you are looking to create a great impression on the new hire, as well as add to your company culture.
Some ideas are other forms to include with your other new employee forms are:
- Goal setting form
- Personal profile form
- Communication style evaluation
- Talent profile
- Orientation checklist
While we don’t want to dive too far into performance management, getting a new hire started on a path to success is super important for employee retention, as well as from an employer branding standpoint (which is a strong recruitment strategy).
Some ways to do that are:
1. Goal setting form
Have a new employee fill out a goal worksheet that aligns with their new job description. What do they want to achieve? What are they hoping to learn? Where do they want to go one day? This will give you a great feel for them in their motivation, as well as ways they might respond to employee recognition.
2. Personal profile form
You don’t need their in-depth personal history (nor do you want it), but asking a candidate where they are from, what their favorite sports teams are, what their hobbies are, etc… can be a good way to introduce them to their new team, or to someone they might become friends with. This will immediately allow them to feel more welcome. It’s a great idea that we got from BambooHR’s onboarding platform, which we talk about in our HR software guide.
3. Communication style evaluation
Especially if you have a unique or remote team, you will want to know your new employee’s communication style (and they will want to know yours). Chat, phone calls, text messages, emails… what form of communication should be used to get the fastest response? What form should they use when responding back?
4. Talent profile
Document the skills, experience, career goals and special talents of every staff member so when an job opening occurs, you’ll know who in the organization may be able to hit the ground running. Maybe your customer service rep is a social media wiz, or your shipping clerk speaks Spanish. When you need those skills you’ll know who to turn to.
One company I worked with colored their organizational chart based on communication style and it smoothed over a lot of festering issues between departments. Here is a fun, short example of a communication quiz.
5. Orientation checklist
An orientation checklist ensures you don’t miss any forms or tasks during the first few weeks.
The Bottom Line
Bookmark this page for all of your new hire employee forms needs. Maybe you only start with categories 1 and 2, and one day, you can add on forms from categories 3 and 4 as your business grows.
You will want to be organized and have your new hires and their employee forms in order, just in case the time comes when you really need them, as well as to stay compliant with taxes, worker’s compensation, payroll check formats and other laws. If this seems overwhelming, remember, you can always reach out to Gusto or Justworks for help; getting a quote is free.