The hiring process in California can be confusing: there are various required federal and state documents that must be reviewed and signed for new employees. It is imperative for California employers to familiarize themselves with the requirements for their local jurisdictions and industries to minimize their legal risk.

Here are five key categories of documents for new hires:

1. Offer Letter

An official offer letter can be the best way to communicate with the new candidate to avoid misunderstanding about the job, salary and other terms and conditions of employment.  Offer letters should at least address the following items:

  • Terms of employment
  • The employee’s at-will status
  • Duties of the position
  • Start date
  • Exempt or non-exempt status
  • Wage or salary
  • Benefits, if any
  • Other conditions of employment (for example, applicant must pass a medical exam, drug test or background check)

2. I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification

Federal law requires completion of Form I-9 to verify employee’s identity and employment authorization. The USCIS has not yet released the updated I-9 Form in 2023, but the current USCIS I-9 can be used until an updated version is available.

3. Federal and State Tax Withholding Forms

Both Federal W-4 Form and California DE 4 Withholding Certificate must be provided to newly hired employees. 

4. Required Pamphlets

Generally speaking, most employers in California are required to provide the following documents with new employees upon hire:

  • Time of Hire Pamphlet
  • Sexual Harassment Pamphlet (DFEH-185P)
  • EDD Disability Insurance Pamphlet (DE 2515)
  • Paid Family Leave Pamphlet (DE 2511 )
  • Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Pamphlet
  • Wage and Employment Notice to Employees (Labor Code section 2810.5) (DLSE-NTE ). This form is only required for non-exempt employees, and more information about the form can be read here.
  • New Health Insurance Marketplace Coverage Options and Health Coverage Form (OMB No. 1210-0149)
  • General Notice of Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) continuation coverage rights (if 20 or more employees and employer offers health plan)
  • Work Permit for Minors (if applicable) (CDE Form B1-4)

These documents are routinely updated each year – so employers need to update the documents provided to employees on at least an annual basis.

Note that many of the state forms listed above must be given to the employee in their primary language.  Employers need to also check their local cities and counties to ensure that they are providing any other required documents, and certain industries have specific required disclosures as well. 

5. Other Important Documents

Other documents often recommend that employers provide to new hires include:

  • Meal and rest break acknowledgment
  • Employee’s meal period waiver for shifts less than six hours
  • Employee handbook acknowledgment
  • Arbitration agreement
  • Confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement