Onboarding is an important step in formalizing the relationship between a new hire and an organization.
Here's what you need to know:
- The onboarding process involves a mix of legally required paperwork and reported as well as in-house activities helpful for acclimating new hires
- Federal law requires companies to report new hires within 20 days of starting
- An employee handbook is a helpful tool for organizing and providing company HR policies to new hires
People Ops teams have a lot to consider during onboarding. Formalizing the relationship between a new hire and their new workplace is a weighty endeavor, especially as the strength of an onboarding program is an potent indicator of the new hire’s forthcoming success, contentment, and engagement in their new role — not to mention, the employee’s willingness to stay with their new employer.
On top of facilitating the new hire’s introduction to the company mission, values, and vibe through the ongoing onboarding process, People Ops teams also have plenty of tick-the-box tasks and activities that must be completed as part of the new hire’s orientation training. As you begin to think about what you need and how to organize your orientation training, use this article as a guide. When you’re ready to dive a little deeper, consider using a new hire checklist to ensure you’ve covered all your bases.
Confirm employment eligibility with Form I-9
Employers are legally responsible for ensuring and confirming their new hire is eligible for employment in the United States. To this, you must complete an I-9 form. You’ll need to request a verifying document from your new hire that confirms both identify and eligibility, such as:
- A U.S. passport or passport card
- Temporary resident card
- Temporary employment authorization card
Alternatively, employees can present a combination of documents that prove identity and eligibility to work in the U.S. separately, like a state driver’s license and social security card.
Collect form W-4 for federal tax withholding
Form W-4 conveys to the employer the proper amount of federal tax to withhold from an employee’s paycheck. Keep in mind that employees are able to change their tax withholding as often as they’d like. For example, some employees may want to adjust their withholding due to a big life event, like the birth of a child. Or, they may want to adjust because of a change in their financial situation, such as a bonus or raise. Employers are responsible for maintaining these changes and ensure the proper federal tax is withheld.
Complete new-hire registration with your state
Federal law requires employers to report all new hires to the correct state agency within 20 days of hire as mandated by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. Although it’s important to note that some states may require it sooner. The goal of this act is twofold. First, it ensures proper and timely payment for child support, and second, it prevents and/or detects state benefit fraud.
Employers are required to report 7 data points:
- Employee’s name
- Employee’s address
- Social Security number (SSN)
- Date of hire (the date the employee first performs services for pay)
- Employer’s name
- Employer’s address
- Federal Employer Identification number (FEIN)
Complete anti-harassment training
Check your state’s laws if you’re unsure about the legal requirements for anti-harassment training. In general, most states mandate anti-harassment training for public employers but not private ones. Laws vary on when the training must be completed, but best practice is to include it as part of your new hire orientation training and then require it periodically thereafter. And even if your state’s laws don’t legally require this form of training, mandating training for all sends the message that your business is committed to an ethical workplace free of harassment for all. Anti-harassment training helps protect your employees and your business. As the continuous education and workplace training resource the Clear Law Institute writes, “court decisions have made clear that employers should provide anti-harassment training to all employees in all states.”
Mandating training for all sends the message that your business is committed to an ethical workplace free of harassment for all. Anti-harassment training helps protect your employees and your business.
Review the employee handbook
A strong employee handbook will help you build a healthy, open, and progressive workplace culture committed to the best interests of all (if you don’t yet have one, there are lots of resources on where to start). While many organizations are digitizing their employee handbooks today, it’s still helpful to show employees where the doc lives. Also, it can help to briefly share an overview of how the handbook is organized.
Some key points to hit on include:
- Share your company’s mission statement, values, and story.
- Point out where they’ll find the policies companies are legally mandated to share, like the Family Medical Leave Act, Equal Opportunity Employment, Title I of the ADA, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, among others.
- Tell new hires where information on your company’s PTO policy and the detailed breakdown of the benefits you offer is located.
Assist new hires in benefits selection
Benefits selection can be confusing, period. Support new hires in the process by providing an overview of the various benefits packages you offer as their employer.
Benefits selection can be confusing, period. Support new hires in the process by providing an overview of the various benefits packages you offer as their employer. Discuss the options for health insurance, life insurance, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and retirement plans. People Ops teams can make the conversation more digestible by using the employee handbook — which should contain detailed information on your business’ offerings — as a resource to guide the conversation. Lastly, remind employees that they can always return to the employee handbook. They should be able review the offerings and their selection at their leisure.
New hire orientation training comes with a lot of paperwork. People Ops teams need to distribute, review, and collect various documents in order to remain legally compliant. Businesses are also required to store these documents securely, as they contain personally identifiable information (PII) of employees. If you are a business of 15 employees or more, federal law dictates what records you have to keep and for how long. To quit pushing paper, use an onboarding software that automates the paperwork of new hire orientation.