Your small business is taking off and you’re ready to hire some help. Learning how to craft the right job description, understanding the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees and managing the mandatory paperwork needed to comply with applicable state and federal requirements can be daunting. Here are eight steps to making sure you know the regulatory requirements before you start staffing your business.
Step 1. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Before hiring your first employee, you need to get an employment identification number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The EIN is often referred to as an Employer Tax ID or as Form SS-4. The EIN is necessary for reporting taxes and other documents to the IRS. In addition, the EIN is necessary when reporting information about your employees to state agencies. Apply for EIN online or contact the IRS at 1-800-829-4933.
Step 2. Set up Records for Withholding Taxes
According to the IRS, you must keep records of employment taxes for at least four years. Keeping good records can also help you monitor the progress of your business, prepare financial statements, identify sources of receipts, keep track of deductible expenses, prepare your tax returns, and support items reported on tax returns.
Step 3. Employee Eligibility Verification
Federal law requires employers to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Within three days of hire, employers must complete Form I-9, employment eligibility verification, which requires employers to examine documents to confirm the employee’s citizenship or eligibility to work in the U.S. Employers can only request documentation specified on the I-9 form.
Employers can use information taken from the Form I-9 to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees by registering with E-Verify.
Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s I-9 website to download the form and find more information.
Step 4. Register with Your State’s New Hire Reporting Program
All employers are required to report newly hired and re-hired employees to a state directory within 20 days of their hire or rehire date. Visit the New Hires Reporting Requirements page to learn more and find links to your state’s New Hire Reporting System.
Step 5. Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance
All businesses with employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis or through their state’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.
Step 6. Post Required Notices
Employers are required to display certain posters in the workplace that inform employees of their rights and employer responsibilities under labor laws. Visit the Workplace Posters page for specific federal and state posters you’ll need for your business.
Step 7. File Your Taxes
Generally, employers who pay wages subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes must file IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. For more information, visit IRS.gov.
New and existing employers should consult the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide to understand all their federal tax filing requirements.
Step 8. Get Organized and Keep Yourself Informed
Being a good employer doesn’t stop with fulfilling your various tax and reporting obligations. Maintaining a healthy and fair workplace, providing benefits and keeping employees informed about your company’s policies are key to your business’ success. Here are some additional steps you should take after you’ve hired your first employee:
Set up Recordkeeping
In addition to requirements for keeping payroll records of your employees for tax purposes, certain federal employment laws also require you to keep records about your employees. The following sites provide more information about federal reporting requirements:
- Tax Recordkeeping Guidance
- Labor Recordkeeping Requirements
- Occupational Safety and Health Act Compliance
- Employment Law Guide (employee benefits chapter)
- Apply Standards that Protect Employee Rights
Complying with standards for employee rights as related to equal opportunity and fair labor standards is a requirement. Following statutes and regulations for minimum wage, overtime and child labor will help you avoid error and a lawsuit. See the Department of Labor’s Employment Law Guide for up-to-date information on these statutes and regulations.
For help on hiring employees for your small business, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.