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Becoming an Employer for the First Time

Business & Commercial

Portrait of proud female worker

Becoming an Employer for the First Time

When you begin hiring staff for the first time, it’s important to start off properly. This sets you up for success as an employer now and in the future. In addition to hiring the right person, you need to ensure you’re following all relevant rules and regulations.

Here are some important things to consider.


Before hiring staff for the first time

Take a look at your current working processes to make sure you’re really in need of new staff. It may be that your working day and schedule are poorly organized. Better time management and automating repetitive tasks could solve your problems without investing in unnecessary staff.

If you’ve made the decision to hire, it’s vital to identify the type of position you’ll offer. The main types of employment the United States are:

  • Part time – typically up to 30 hours per week.
  • Casual – you generally work as and when required.
  • Full time – usually around 35-40 hours a week, but this can vary by state and industry.
  • Fixed term – your employment is only for a specific period.
  • Seasonal – employment occurs only during specific seasons such as holiday retail or summer tourism.
  • Permanent – all employees on full-time or part time contracts will be permanent.

Choosing which type of employment to offer depends on the requirements of the job and the budget your business has for new staffing.


Know your employment obligations and responsibilities

Before getting started on the interview process, there are a few acts you should become familiar with to ensure your compliance. Such acts set out rules for minimum wage and overtime, equality in the workplace, and health insurance. These include the:

Each state has its own labor laws that may extend further protections or requirements. It’s crucial to be aware of any state-specific regulations that might affect you as well. To become a legal employer, you must register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. You should also be familiar with the rules described in Publication 15 (also known as “Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide”). This sets out information on withholding federal taxes from employees’ wages.


Draft an employee agreement

Generally speaking, employee agreements aren’t required by law in the US, except in certain circumstances. However, they can be highly beneficial in providing clarity in the terms and conditions of employment, legal protection in case of a dispute, and setting out non-disclosure or confidentiality terms.


Register with state labor agencies

Each state will have its own agencies that require state unemployment compensation taxes and disability taxes where applicable. Generally speaking you’re required to register with the appropriate state through its Department of Labor or equivalent agency. For example, in California, you would register with the Employment Development Department.


Set out employee training and onboarding guidelines

Having thorough training and onboarding processes enables workers to feel confident as they start their role. Your training and onboarding guidelines should outline how you intend to integrate your new staff member into your current setup. This includes training for their job and making them feel like part of the team.


How to hire employees

Decide how you’ll go about hiring a new employee. For example, you could use a recruitment agent or take care of the process yourself. You may choose to get an agency to filter out all the candidates that don’t quite measure up to your strict criteria, then interview the remaining few jobseekers yourself.

If you want to be involved in the entire hiring process, you’ll have to consider where you’ll advertise. In the US, ZipRecruiter and Indeed are two popular job advertising websites for small businesses.


Choosing the right person for the job

The right person in the right job will make all the difference to your success.


Does the candidate possess the required skills to do the job? Most positions require a certain familiarity or experience with the job at hand, regardless of qualifications.


Do interviewees have the potential to improve their skills further? During interviews they should show ambition and a desire to succeed. Ideally, they’ll have a plan for the future that encompasses the next few years. This can indicate that they’ll be proactive in their job and creative when finding alternative solutions to work problems.


Are they committed to the cause or does their work experience include many positions for short periods of time? This can show a lack of commitment or a lack of direction.

Good values

An employee with decent values should help maintain the image of your business. Have a chat with each candidate during the interview process and discuss a few things that aren’t related to the job. Finding someone that holds similar values as you can be a positive.

Next steps

Before you hire, make sure you’ve clearly defined the roles and responsibilities for the person you’ll be hiring. Review Resources for Employers at the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to ensure you’re compliant with all federal rules and regulations, then check with your state’s department to ensure compliance there. Check the IRS guide to Hiring Employees so you know how to ensure the employee is eligible to work in the US.