Documents Every Employee Should Sign Before Starting to Work for You

Hiring a new employee is exciting both for you as a business owner and for your new hire. It’s the start of a new relationship and so it’s very important to get everything started off on the right foot. Before you can officially embark on your working relationship, however, there are several important documents and forms that every new employee must review and sign. Making sure your new hire signs certain documents before beginning work is key to preventing legal problems down the road. So what documents should they review and sign? Let’s discuss.

1. Offer letter

The offer letter is generally the first piece of paperwork presented to a new hire. As this will detail important information like their salary and start date, it’s a good idea to have every employee sign off on it after they accept the position. Come see us if you need help writing up a solid, legally enforceable offer letter!

2. Employee handbook acknowledgement form

The employee handbook is essential to any business. All of your company policies and procedures are laid out in the handbook, and it sets the foundation for an employee’s potential liability in a future legal dispute. Therefore, it’s very important to make sure that you have every new employee sign an acknowledgement form that they have both read and understand it.

3. Tax and other government forms

There are two main forms that employees must sign under this category: 1) IRS Form W-4, Withholding Allowance Certificate and 2) Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Both of these are essential during the onboarding of any new employee. The W-4 tells your employer important federal tax information like your filing status and how much to withhold per paycheck. Oftentimes, states have their own form of W-4 to account for state taxes, so make sure to have your new hire sign that as well if applicable. The I-9 must be completed because it is what asserts that you are legally eligible to work in the United States. 

4. Benefits forms

If you offer benefits, then your employee must be given the forms to sign up and enroll. The employee will have to provide some personal information about their life and family, like potentially naming someone as a beneficiary. 

5. Payroll Information

This is important so that your employee can be incorporated into your payroll system and start getting paid on time. The employee will provide info about how they want to get paid, like by providing their bank account information for a direct deposit or by providing a mailing address if they wish to be paid by check.

6. Wage Withholding Form

Although it might seem like an employer can withhold employees’ wages for repayments for uniforms or damage done or the like, an employee is actually entitled by law to receive his or her full pay for services rendered and then must be asked to make repayment, unless a wage withholding form is completed by the employee.  With this form the employee grants permission for the employer to withhold payments from the employee’s paycheck to cover uniforms or damage.  Without this form, all earned pay must be delivered to the employee and repayment asked for by the employer.  It is a violation of state law to not pay an employee his/her entire pay, minus tax and other agreed to withholdings.

7. Consent to Procurement of Credit Report

Often when employees will be in positions of handling money for a company or placed in positions of trust, the employer will want to run a credit report to ascertain whether the employee has handled his/her own credit responsibly or to determine if the employee might be at risk of financial hardship that might impact their trustworthiness.  A credit report is a common tool used to determine an employee’s status but an employer cannot just run one on an employee without the employee’s permission.  It is often a good idea to simply get the permission as part of the employee checking into the business so that it is on hand in case the employee is later moved into a position where the employer requires a review of the credit report before placing or promoting the employee.  

Although this list includes the most common forms that employees might need to sign upon starting a new position, it is by no means all-inclusive. Oftentimes, certain companies would benefit from requiring new hires to sign several other types of contracts such as non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements, or arbitration agreements.  These agreements are highly dependent on state law, so consider getting local counsel to advise on what these agreements can and cannot contain.

Contact Us

If you’re unsure of what your company needs to present to its new hires, speaking with an experienced Virginia business law attorney will help ensure that you have everything in order. They can even draft all of your form templates to make the onboarding process as seamless as possible. At the Wilson Law Group, we regularly help businesses with employee needs. If you need help onboarding your employees, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!











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Wilson Law Group

Jim Wilson is the founder and principal attorney of the Wilson Law Group. For the past 25 years he has been combining legal dexterity with an entrepreneurial mindset to help aspiring and established business owners start, finance, buy, sell, and run their companies.

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