Filling Out New-Hire Paperwork
How to keep costly errors at bay
Slowly but surely, unemployed Americans are finding new jobs. But as any recent hire can attest, filling out the forms during the first week of employment can make getting hired look like the easy part.
From W-4s to retirement accounts, stock options and health insurance forms, new hires are faced with a barrage of complicated paperwork, and few actually take the time to read the material handed out, which can lead to costly errors. It's impossible to predict the documents you'll be asked to fill out during your first day, but there are a few key things that most companies require:
First and foremost, you will need to fill out federal and state tax forms before you can collect a paycheck — the most important of which is the W-4. Make sure to calculate your number of withholding allowances correctly. Writing the wrong number can cost you dearly come tax time, which is why it's worth looking at a pay stub from a former job or using the IRS Withholding Calculator (www.irs.gov/individuals) if you’re not sure which number to use.
Health Insurance Information
If your new company offers health insurance benefits to employees, be thankful and prepare to fill out the necessary paperwork to get enrolled right away. In addition to your own vital information, you'll need the social security numbers and current addresses for any dependents you plan to include on your new plan.
If your new company offers any 401(k), 403(b) or similar retirement plans, then it's definitely worth signing up. Avoid being rushed into making an uninformed decision on which option to choose and be willing to ask your HR rep if he or she minds if you take a few extra days to talk your options over with a spouse or accountant before deciding where to funnel the majority of your retirement funds.
Last but not least, you want to get paid. In order to set up your paycheck for automatic deposit, though, you'll need to come to the office prepared on day one. Bring your checkbook or another document that lists your bank account and routing numbers to avoid a delay in receiving your first check.
Stephanie Miles is a freelance writer living in New York City.