Blog Articles

New Hire Paperwork and Compliance for Washington State

Are you wondering how to properly onboard a new hire in Washington? Here's everything you need to know about new hire paperwork for Washington state.

August 4th, 2023

Washington State has an employment rate of almost 63%. This means that there are plenty of people who secure a new job every year – and with a new job comes a whole wave of new hire paperwork.

From completing essential forms to adhering to legal requirements, effectively managing new hire paperwork sets the stage for a seamless onboarding process. Keep reading to find out more.

Why You Need an Effective Hiring Process

An effective hiring process keeps the process efficient. You'll interview candidates who most closely fit the role and will streamline any paperwork requirements.

Attracting Top Talent

An effective hiring and onboarding process enhances an employer's ability to attract top talent. Washington State boasts a vibrant and diverse talent pool across various industries. So you want to make sure you always find the best talent for the job.

A streamlined and well-structured hiring process shows the employer's commitment to talent acquisition. This attracts candidates who are eager to contribute to a thriving work environment.

Enhanced Employee Retention

When employees see that they have value in a company, retention increases. This starts right from the onboarding process. An employee will want to see that an employer is organized, as this is a reflection of their business as a whole.

An effective onboarding program ensures employees have proper training. It also shows them that they have access to whatever support they need. This leads to increased employee satisfaction and retention.

Positive Organizational Culture

An effective hiring and onboarding process helps shape a positive organizational culture. A strong organizational culture is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent.

Core values must be fostered through the onboarding process. This creates a positive work environment. It also attracts individuals who align with their mission and values.

As a result, employees have higher morale and satisfaction.

Download The Ultimate Onboarding Checklist

New Hire Paperwork in Washington State

The paperwork requirements for new hires exist to keep things organized and functional. If you're in Washington State, below is a list of all the paperwork necessities when onboarding.

Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)

This federal document states that employees are legally eligible to work in the US. Employers must verify the identity and employment authorization of the employee.

They do so by examining and recording specific documents. For example, a passport or driver's license and Social Security card.

The completed Form I-9 must be retained for a specified period. It is then made available for inspection by authorized government officials.

Washington State New Hire Reporting

You must report newly hired employees to the Washington State New Hire Reporting Program. This program helps enforce child support obligations. It does so by facilitating the collection and distribution of child support payments.

Employers must report new hires within 20 days of their hire date or the first working day after that.

Form W-4

New employees must complete federal and state tax forms. These forms ensure accurate withholding of income taxes.

The federal tax form is the Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (Form W-4). This determines the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from the employee's wages.

Washington State does not have a state income tax. Employees are not required to complete a state tax withholding form.

Tax in Washington State

Tax reporting is also a big responsibility for employers, who must adhere to the state's payroll and tax reporting requirements. This is crucial to ensure compliance with legal obligations and maintain smooth operations.

Registering with the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD)

New employers must register with the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) before hiring employees.

Registration is available online through the ESD's website.

This registration process enables employers to pay unemployment insurance taxes. It also means they fulfill their reporting obligations.

Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Employers must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

This unique identifier is used to report payroll taxes and other employment-related documents. Employers must have this before hiring new employees. An EIN ensures employers follow compliance.

Withholding and Reporting Taxes

Washington State does not impose a personal income tax on individuals. However, employers are still responsible for withholding and reporting certain taxes:

Federal Income Tax Withholding

Employers must withhold federal income tax from employees' wages. This is based on the information provided on the employee's Form W-4. The withheld amounts get reported and remitted to the IRS regularly.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes

Employers withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from employees' wages. The current rates for Social Security tax and Medicare tax are available on the IRS website. Employers must report and remit these taxes to the IRS.

Washington State Unemployment Insurance (UI) Tax

Employers in Washington State are responsible for paying unemployment insurance taxes. These get sent to the Washington State Employment Security Department.

UI tax rates get determined based on the employer's industry and experience rating. Employers must report and remit UI taxes quarterly or based on the schedule provided by the ESD.

Payroll Records and Documentation

Employers must keep accurate payroll records for employees. These records include valuable information. For example, they show hours worked, deductions, and wages.

These records are available for three years. Pay stubs are also available for each employee.

Annual Reporting Requirements

Employers in Washington State must file an annual reconciliation report. This is also known as the Combined Excise Tax Return (CETR). It must be filed with the Washington State Department of Revenue.

The CETR summarizes the employer's tax liability for state and local business taxes. This includes the business and occupation tax. The filing deadline for the CETR is January 31st of the following year.

Washington State HR Onboarding Requirements

If you work in HR, there are certain requirements you will have to fulfill as you onboard a new employee. Completing these tasks at the beginning of an employee's career avoids unnecessary complications in the future.

Offer Letter and Employment Agreement

HR professionals should finalize and deliver an offer letter to new hires. They should also give them an employment agreement.

These documents outline the terms and conditions of employment. They include information like job titles and wages.

It's important to review these documents carefully. This helps to avoid any misunderstandings between the employer and the employee. This makes the onboarding process easier.

Background Checks and References

New hire background checks are important. These will help to confirm qualifications and training. In Washington State, there are laws surrounding how background checks are performed.

Employers must receive written consent from the candidate before conducting a background check. They also must keep any findings confidential between employer and employee.

Background checks allow employers to check the criminal record of any new hire. Having a criminal record doesn't mean a new hire won't get the job. It simply allows an employer to have all the information they need.

Benefits Enrollment and Paperwork

Before an employee starts, HR should give them all the necessary paperwork. There is usually a lot of documentation at this stage. This might include health insurance, benefit programs, or retirement plans.

HR should be available to answer any employee questions or concerns. Employees might be unsure about something they read, so it's important to answer all their queries. They should make the employee onboarding experience easier, as this fosters loyalty.

Payroll Setup and Documentation

HR should work with the payroll department to ensure that the new employee's payroll is set up. This includes collecting essential information such as Social Security Number. HR should also get bank account details and tax withholding information.

HR must explain the payroll schedule. New hires also need to know payment methods and any payroll policies. Providing clear communication about payroll processes helps avoid any confusion.

A new hire should know who to speak to if they have any issues with payment.

Onboarding Materials and Orientation

HR should prepare onboarding materials and orientation schedules for the new employee. This may include an employee handbook, company policies, and safety guidelines. They should also facilitate any required training materials.

It's a great idea to provide these materials in advance. Employees can then review them at their leisure. They then feel more prepared.

New Hire Paperwork Doesn't Need to be Complicated

It'a important to know the necessary new hire paperwork and prioritize the completion of required forms. This helps employers build successful employment relationships.

Doing this also reduces risks and ensures compliance with applicable laws. As long as all your new hire paperwork is up-to-scratch, you'll be fine.

At GoCo, we offer a comprehensive HR platform to make onboarding a paperless and seamless experience. By automating the new hire process, HR departments can save time and money. 

Take a free tour of our software today to learn more!

Subscribe to Beyond The Desk to get insights, important dates, and a healthy dose of HR fun straight to your inbox.

Subscribe here