Hiring Your First Employee: Ten Things You Must Do

When you hire employees, you must get an employer identification number (EIN) to use on tax returns and other documents you submit to the IRS. To get an EIN, you must file IRS Form SS-4. You can download the form from the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov.

Register with your state’s labor department.

Once you bring on employees, you will have to pay state unemployment compensation taxes. These payments go to your state’s unemployment compensation fund, which provides short-term relief to workers who lose their jobs. Go to http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/map.asp for a list of state unemployment insurance tax agencies.

Set up a payroll system to withhold taxes.

You’ll need to withhold a portion of each employee’s income and deposit it with the IRS, and also make Social Security and Medicare tax payments to the IRS. For more information, get IRS Publication 15, Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide from the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov. (You may also have to withhold taxes for your state. For more information, check with your state’s tax agency; you can find links to each state’s agency at the website of the Federation of Tax Administrators at http://www.taxadmin.org.)

Get workers’ compensation insurance.

You should have workers’ comp coverage to protect workers who might suffer on-the-job injuries. Workers’ comp insurance is required in the vast majority of states, although some make an exception for very small employers. For more information on workers’ compensation laws, see The Manager’s Legal Handbook, by attorneys Lisa Guerin and Amy DelPo (Nolo).

Adopt workplace safety measures.

Virtually every employer must comply with the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) by, among other things, providing a workplace free of hazards, training employees to do their jobs safely, notifying government administrators about serious workplace accidents, and keeping detailed safety records. For information on these rules, go to website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at http://www.osha.gov.

Post required notices.

Several government agencies require employers to post notices providing information on worker rights for their employees. For information on required federal posters, go to the Department of Labor website at http://www.dol.gov. Use the online “Poster Advisor” to determine which posters you must display in your workplace. In addition, you must comply with your state department of labor’s poster requirements. A list of state departments of labor is included on the federal Department of Labor’s website.

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