April 4, 2019    |    By

If you’re running a business in California and planning to hire new employees, be aware that the hiring process is not as simple as you might think. California has incredibly strict rules and regulations regarding hiring practices, which means there are certain procedures and paperwork you’ll need to navigate. The entire hiring process can be a little overwhelming, so we have created a guide to help you to comply with the state’s strict hiring requirements and documents.

Evaluating The Job You Are Offering

The very first thing you need to do is evaluate the position you’re looking to fill. Not only do you want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re looking for (in terms of job title, descriptions, skills, needs, etc.), but that the compensation you offer is in line with what you’re looking for. The following are three things that employees will care about most when evaluating your job offer:


Is Your Salary Range Enough?

Do a bit of research within your industry to determine how much you should offer job candidates with certain skills and experience. Keep in mind that comparing what one company pays an employee with similar responsibilities in another part of the country may differ from what you should be offering here in California. California is one of the most expensive states in the U.S., so take into account the cost of living as part of your compensation package. Salary packages need to take into account a variety of different considerations.


Tools And Resources Your Employee Have Access To

One of the things that talented job candidates will look for is the types of tools and resources that they will have access to in order to do their job. It’s something that you will want to advertise in your job description. Advanced tools, such as the latest software for the position in question, makes their job easier and allows them to be more productive and efficient.


Your Company’s’ Reputation As An Employer

Whether you have a good reputation as an employer or a bad one, it won’t be difficult for job candidates to figure out. Networking has become a lot easier in this day and age, and potential employees can find out a lot about your company via social media and various review sites. If you have a reputation for high turnover, for not treating your employees fairly or with respect, for having a bad onboarding process, or any other similar issues, then you’ll have to make a very convincing offer to get a job candidate to accept a position at your company. If you have a solid reputation for being a good employer, it will be easier to attract top talent without paying top dollar.


Evaluating Candidates

Evaluating new employees carefully is extremely important. There’s a ton of paperwork involved with taking on new employees, which means the last thing you want to do is hire someone who isn’t qualified or who isn’t a good fit for your company. If you let them go or they leave, you’ll have wasted a significant amount of time on hiring them in the first place and you’ll have to go through the entire process again. Keeping that mind, here are a few things to evaluate when considering different job applicants for a position at your company:


Technical Skill

At the very least, the candidate must meet all of the technical requirements of the job. Their resume should list the skills they have and the tools they know how to use in regards to the position you’re trying to fill. They should have also had similar positions in the past. Ask them about their responsibilities at previous jobs and what kinds of skills they developed and equipment/tools that they used while on the job. Contact their references to reaffirm what they’ve told you.



Find out what their aspirations are. Ask why they are seeking the position you’re offering. In some cases, they may be doing the same job at their company but feel unrewarded. Perhaps your compensation package is much better, or they’ve heard about the positive reputation that your company has among employees. In other cases, it might be someone who is looking to work their way up but hasn’t been given a chance at their present position because their current company has decided to hire from outside. Whatever aspirations they have, make sure they point towards actually wanting the position because they see a potential future at your company.


Personality Values

One of the most important reasons that you’ll want to have an in-person interview with qualified candidates is to get a sense of their personality. This will give you an idea of whether they will fit into your team. For example, if they seem bored or detached from the interview, they might not be a good fit if you need someone who’s hard working, communicative, and responsive to feedback. Feel free to ask questions outside of the standard interview questions to get a better feel for who they are as a person but be sure to stay away from questions that aren’t allowed by law.


Personal And Ethical Values

Judging someone’s personal and ethical values is difficult to do based on just how you interact with them during an interview. However, you could get somewhat of an idea of what their personal and ethical values are by their employment history or by talking to previous employers. If they have a hard time taking instructions, don’t work well in groups, or have had other issues in the workplace, they may not be a great fit for your company. If you notice that they’ve never stayed at one place for more than a year and have a resume full of different jobs at different places, it could be a red flag as well–they may be willing to jump ship the moment a slightly better opportunity comes along.

However, be very careful about asking questions that could be considered discriminatory on the basis of their race, gender, religion, or any other type of demographic information protected by discrimination laws.


New Hire Forms And Paperwork

Once you’ve decided on a candidate, you’ll want to extend a job offer.Depending on the position, you may want to give the candidate an offer letter that specifies the job duties, compensation, benefits and other details of the position. Some positions may only need a verbal offer that specifies a start date and wage. If they accept, you will need to provide a variety of new hire forms and paperwork to them in accordance with California law on their first day at work. The following is a list of the basic documentation that you will need to provide to your new hire:


3 Important Documents

There are three important documents that you  should have and that you should have your new hires go over on their first day at work. They will need to sign two of these documents–the confidentiality agreement and the arbitration agreement. The third is the employee handbook, which you will want them to familiarize themselves with. They should also sign an acknowledgement stating that they received a copy of the employee handbook.


Confidentiality Agreement

The last thing you want is for ex-employees to sell off valuable company secrets to competitors, which is why you have to make all of your new hires sign a confidentiality agreement right away. This is a legally binding contract that contains the terms and conditions prohibiting the employee from disclosing confidential and proprietary information relating to your company.


Arbitration Agreement

An arbitration agreement is an agreement between the employer and employee that the employee will pursue any legal claims (such as breach of contract, wrongful termination, or discrimination) through arbitration instead of through a lawsuit. Arbitrations are less formal than court trials, which can make the process go a lot quicker and a lot easier for both sides. An arbitration case is heard and decided by a private citizen, sometimes a retired judge, paid by one or both sides. The potential terms of an arbitration (should one occur) should be in the arbitration agreement, such as who pays for the costs of arbitration and who chooses the arbitrator.


Employee Handbook

The employee handbook explains what your company’s culture and policies. Even though it’s not required by law to provide an employee handbook, it is required by law to inform new employees about certain workplace rights. This is most easily done in the form of an employee handbook. Keep in mind that the text in your employee handbook is considered legally binding unless it’s explicitly stated that something in your handbook is not legally binding. Essentially, this means that employees have the right to sue (or force arbitration) if you fail to honor any of the provisions you have listed in your employee handbook.


Forms You Should Be Aware Of

In addition to these three  documents that you should provide new hires on their first day, there are numerous forms that need to be filled out. These include the following forms:


Form I-9

Form I-9 is a form that verifies an individual’s identity and employment authorization. It’s required by federal law for everyone hired in the U.S. Both the employer and the employee will need to complete Form I-9 by the third day that the employee has begun work.


Form W-4

Form W-4 needs to be completed by the time of hire. It’s what allows you to withhold the correct federal and state income tax from your employee’s income. Employees in California may need to fill out a DE-4 if they want to claim a different withholding for state taxes.



The DLSE-NTE form is a template created by the DIR (Department of Industrial Relations) that can be used as a notice that provides new hires with the required information, such as the legal name of the employer, the employer’s address, the employer’s paid sick leave policy, and the employee’s rate of pay. This notice is required by the Wage Theft Prevention Act.



The DFEH-185 is a California DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing) sexual harassment pamphlet that covers the definition of sexual harassment, examples of sexual harassment, the employer’s internal complaint process, legal remedies available through the DFEH, directions on how to contact the DFEH, and protections against potential retaliation. The pamphlet must be provided to all new employees at the time of their hire.


DE 2511

The DE 2511 is a Paid Family Leave Pamphlet created by the California EDD (Employment Development Department) that outlines the employees’ rights to paid family leave.


DE 2515

The DE 2515 pamphlet informs employees of their right to take time off for non-work related illnesses, injuries, pregnancies, or childbirth. It must be provided to employees within five days of starting work.


Workers’ Compensation Form

California requires that employers have workers’ compensation insurance by law. The workers’ compensation form should be provided to employees so that they can file for workers’ compensation should they fall ill or experience an injury while at work.


Rights Of Victims Of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault And Stalking Form

This form informs employees of their right to take time off of work to get protection against domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The form also informs employees that they cannot be treated differently, fired, or retaliated against in any way by their employer as a result of asking for time off for this reason or for asking the employer for help or changes in the workplace to protect against these dangers.


Work Permit If Required

If you are hiring a minor (anyone under the age of 18), then you will need to get a work permit. This is usually obtained from an authorized individual at the employee’s school or from the superintendent of the employee’s school district. The form must be completed and signed by the employee, the employer, and the parents/guardians of the employee.


Self Identification Forms

Employers are required to submit an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) report every year. To do this, they must provide their employees with self-identification forms. Employees can choose to volunteer information about their service, gender, and/or disabilities. Employees must be given the form to fill out with the understanding that none of the information provided will have any bearing on their employment or the terms and conditions of their employment. The EEOC forms are completely voluntary on the part of the employee.


Reporting Requirements

As an employer in California, you will be required to report new hires to the New Employee Registry within 20 days of their first day of work. This includes employees that you rehired after a separation of at least 60 days in a row. You will need to provide information as the employer as well as information provided by your new employee.


For Employers

The following information has to be reported for all new hires according to California state law:

  • Employers Payroll Tax Account Number
  • Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Branch Code (Only if Provided)
  • Business name and address
  • Contact Person and Phone Number


For Employees

The following is the employee information that you will need to report:

  • First name, middles initial and last name
  • Social Security Number
  • Home Address
  • Start-of-work date

How To Report

There are a few ways that you can report the necessary information concerning new hires. You can submit a DE 34 form (Report of New Employee(s)) electronically by enrolling in the Employment Development Department’s online service, e-Services for Business. You can also submit the form by mail or fax. To obtain a paper version of the form, you can download the DE 34 form online and print it out. You can also request the form at your nearest Employment Tax Office or by calling 1-888-745-3886.


Penalties To Avoid

If you fail to report new hires within the appropriate time frame, you will be subject to penalties. According to federal law, states can fine up to $25 for every employee that wasn’t reported. If it’s found that you and the employee that was not reported created a conspiracy to avoid reporting, you can be fined as much as $500 an employee.



The hiring process here in California may seem overly complicated but it’s designed to protect both employers and employees. In the end, it’s critical to your business to know and follow hiring guidelines closely.


Make a great first impression at your next job interview.

This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.