Making Sure You Stay Up to Date With Employment Forms

When hiring employees, there are a couple of administrative forms that employers are required to collect from their hires, and in some cases store and keep updated.

The first form is the I-9, or the Employment Eligibility Verification Form. The I-9 identifies employees and determines whether they are eligible for employment in the U.S. I-9s must be fully completed within 3 days of an employee’s start; filing an incomplete I-9 or filing late can subject an employer to significant fines and penalties. Employers are further required to keep I-9s on file through the employee’s separation from employment, until the later of 3 years after the start date of employment or one year after the date of termination/resignation.

Employers are also required to collect W-4s from employees, which sets forth the amount of tax employers must withhold from employees’ paychecks. Employees are permitted to amend their W-4 at any time to reflect a change in their status (e.g., marriage, birth/adoption of a child), such that employers are responsible for ensuring that employees’ W-4s are up to date. It is often good practice to have employees update (or verify as correct) their W-4s on an annual basis — annual performance reviews, if used by the company, provides a convenient event to have employees update their information.

Of course, these documents contain sensitive personal information such as social security numbers and identity documents, so employers must ensure that physical or electronic copies of these records are secure. There are a number of companies that provide online systems for companies to collect and maintain these records.

Finally, employers should check federal state employement laws to see what other documents or information must be provided to or collected from employees, sometimes depending on the position the employee is filling — such information may include background check questions, sick leave procedure, or notices of at-will employment. 

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