Employee paperwork isn’t the most exciting aspect of the onboarding process, but it’s essential to ensure employees get paid and can file taxes properly. Tracking company documents improves corporate governance and establishes trustworthiness.

Documents like the employee handbook detail policies, procedures, codes of conduct and benefits. They also highlight expectations within a role.

1. Offer Letter

A job offer letter confirms a company’s employment terms and conditions in writing. It provides a written record of the employer’s agreement with the candidate, preventing any future disputes or confusion over details such as salary, work hours, and benefits. The letter also serves as legal protection for both parties. Speak with an attorney to ensure that the letter includes any necessary disclaimers or language to comply with applicable employment laws and regulations.

Include basic information such as the company name, the candidate’s name and address, and the date of the letter. The letter should also clearly state the position offered and its status (full-time, part-time or independent contractor). If possible, include a basic work schedule as well. Other common items to include are the reporting structure and duties.

Evaluate Negotiation Possibilities: If the candidate wishes to negotiate a specific item of the employment offer, the letter should note that, and provide a date by which the candidate needs to respond with any desired changes. The offer letter should also state that the candidate’s acceptance is contingent upon passing a background check, reference checks and proof of the ability to work in the United States as required by law.

2. Employment Contract

The employment contract is a legally binding document that sets out the terms and conditions of employment between an employer and employee. It can include explicit terms such as the duration of employment and salary as well as implied terms like an obligation to treat each other fairly, a duty not to destroy company property, and a confidentiality agreement.

The employment agreement should also detail the specific duties and responsibilities of the position, as well as any benefits the employee is promised, such as vacation time or health insurance coverage. It should also specify whether the employee is classified as exempt or nonexempt, which impacts their pay rate and eligibility for overtime. It should also clearly indicate if the employment is at-will or if it is guaranteed for a certain period of time.

While employment contracts offer more job security to employees, they can limit an employer’s flexibility if they decide to change the terms at a later date. Generally, these changes can only be made by renegotiating the contract with the employee.

3. Job Description

A job description is a document that clearly defines the duties, functions and responsibilities of a role within your organization. It helps candidates understand what the job is really about and also provides a baseline for performance reviews.

It should include a general purpose statement, a list of responsibilities with specific details about both day-to-day and bigger-picture responsibilities, the reporting structure, how one’s results will impact the company, and the qualifications/skills that are necessary for the position. It’s important to be clear and concise as a well-written, engaging job description reflects on your team’s professionalism and trustworthiness.

Using language that is inclusive will help broaden your applicant pool, and it will also make the role more attractive to top talent. A well-written job description can also be useful when evaluating performance, determining salary levels, providing training exercises, and creating reasonable accommodation controls. Job descriptions should be revisited and updated regularly to keep them as up-to-date as possible.

4. Employee File

Employee files, also known as personnel files, are detailed records that document an employee’s work history and performance. They’re used to help employers make decisions about promotions, salary increases, and other career advancement opportunities. They also help protect businesses from legal issues by ensuring they’re complying with employment laws. For expert management of employee files and compliance, consider partnering with EOR companies.

A good employee file contains documents like the employee’s personal information (like name and contact details), their application, resume or job history, and their signed employment contract. It should also include performance appraisals or evaluation forms that have been discussed with the employee and the results of any training programs.

Some documents, such as I-9s or medical documentation submitted by an employee in regards to a medical leave of absence, should be kept in a separate confidential employee file and only accessible to HR personnel. Other confidential files might include affirmative action identification documents or documentation related to ongoing litigation.

5. Emergency Contact Information

When employees are injured at work or become sick, it’s important to know who to contact immediately. In some cases, it may be necessary to take action like getting a doctor’s note or arranging for someone to drive an employee home. This is why it’s essential to have an employee emergency contact form in place.

An employee emergency contact form typically collects information such as name, phone number, address, and relationship to the employee. It may also request consent to share medical information in a crisis situation. This form is usually included as part of an employee’s onboarding paperwork and should be updated regularly.

When selecting an emergency contact, consider the person’s availability and ability to handle high-stress situations. You want someone who is likely to answer their phone or check messages regularly and who is comfortable sharing personal health information with strangers in a stressful time. They should also be comfortable discussing issues like medication, addictions, and pre-existing conditions. This will make it much easier for you to act quickly if an accident or illness happens.

6. Non-Compete or Non-Disclosure Acknowledgement

A non-compete or non-disclosure acknowledgement is a legal contract (or a specific clause within an employment agreement) that specifies an employee cannot work for competitors for a set period of time after their employment with your company has ended. These restrictive covenants serve to protect the company and prevent financial harm should sensitive information leak out or a former employee set up their own business competing with yours.

This type of document should clearly state the identity of the parties, definitions, obligations, scope, time frame, return of information, and damages in case of a breach. It should also be signed electronically to ensure it has extra security and is legally binding.

NDAs and non-compete agreements are both considered restrictive covenants and are often scrutinized by courts throughout the United States for reasonableness and remedies in case of a breach. However, NDAs are more streamlined and specifically aimed at confidential information protection, while non-competes are usually inserted into an overall employment contract that may cover multiple scenarios. NDAs can be more easily enforced as they only cover confidential information, but non-competes must be limited to a geographic area that your business does not compete in.

7. Pay Stubs

Pay stubs, also known as payslips, are documents that break down an employee’s payroll information including gross wages, taxes, deductions and yearly net earnings. Although the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require that employers issue paycheck stubs to employees, many states have their own laws requiring companies to provide them.

Paystubs are useful for both employers and employees because they help to ensure that all of the proper deductions, taxes and payments are made. They can also be used to resolve disputes between an employee and their employer about the amount of pay they’re receiving for a certain period.

The more familiar you are with the various parts of a pay stub and what they mean, the easier it will be for you to spot any errors or issues that may need to be corrected. Additionally, knowing what the abbreviations on a pay stub means will make it much easier for you to keep track of your deductions and additional earnings. This can be important when applying for credit cards or renting a home.

8. Form 1-9

Officially called the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, this United States Citizenship and Immigration Services document requires all employees to present documents that establish their identity and work authorization. This must be done within three days of an employee’s start date. The employer or an authorized representative must examine the employee’s documentation to verify its authenticity. Discrimination based on an employee’s choice of acceptable documents is prohibited.

The I-9 also requires that the employer record the employee’s name, address and telephone number. If an employee has changed their name since completing Section 1 of this form, the employer should complete Block A with the new information and provide evidence of the change.

For most employees, one document that satisfies the requirements of both List B (documents that establish identity) and List C (documents that show employment authorization) is sufficient. However, some employees may need to present two documents or a combination of one from each list. See the I-9 instructions for details on which documents qualify. The I-9 also allows for the use of preparers and translators, who must sign a separate certification area.