Are you about to hire your first employee? While we have provided tips on becoming an employer before, here are some more tips provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA).


Before finding the right person for the new job you have, you’ll need to create a plan for paying employees. Follow these steps to set up payroll:

  1. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  2. Find out whether you need state or local tax IDs
  3. Decide if you want an independent contractor or an employee
  4. Ensure new employees return a completed W-4 form
  5. Schedule pay periods to coordinate tax withholding for IRS
  6. Create a compensation plan for holiday, vacation and leave
  7. Choose an in-house or external service for administering payroll
  8. Decide who will manage your payroll system
  9. Know which records must stay on file and for how long
  10. Report payroll taxes as needed on quarterly and annual basis

The IRS maintains the Employer’s Tax Guide, which provides guidance on all federal tax filing requirements that could apply to the obligations for your small business. Check with your state tax agency for employer filing stipulations.

Know the difference in an employee and an independent contractor.

Distinguishing between employees and independent contractors can impact your bottom line, as this affects how you withhold taxes and avoid costly legal consequences. Learn the differences before hiring your first employee.

An independent contractor operates under a separate business name from your company and invoices for work completed. Independent contractors can sometimes qualify as employees in a legal sense. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission created a guide for making the determination.

If your contractor is discovered to meet the legal definition of employee, you may need to pay back taxes and penalties, provide benefits, and reimburse for wages stipulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Are you planning to offer employee benefits?

Healthcare and other benefits play a significant role in hiring and retaining employees. Some employee benefits are required by law, but others are optional.

Required employee benefits

  • Social Security taxes: Employers must pay Social Security taxes at the same rate as their employees
  • Workers’ Compensation: Required through a commercial carrier, self-insured basis, or state Workers’ Compensation Program
  • Disability Insurance: Disability pay is required in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico
  • Leave benefits: Most leave benefits are optional outside those stipulated in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Unemployment insurance: Varies by state, and you may need to register with your state workforce agency

Optional employee benefits

Your small business can offer a complete range of optional benefits to help attract and retain employees. Even if a benefit you offer is optional, it might still have to comply with certain laws if you choose to offer it.

Businesses that offer group health plans must comply with federal laws, for which the Department of Labor hosts a guide.

Employees can expand coverage through the Affordable Care Act and some may qualify for benefits via the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Businesses must extend the option of COBRA benefits to employees who are terminated or laid off.

Retirement plans are a very popular employee benefit. Consider offering an employer-sponsored plan like a 401k or a pension plan. The federal government offers a wide range of resources to aid small business owners in choosing their retirement plan and pension.

Employee incentive programs

Employee incentive programs can boost morale and create more draw for open positions: Common incentives such as stock options, flex time, wellness programs, corporate memberships and company events.

Consider benefits administration software if your budget allows. It can make your accounting easier and more efficient. Detailing these benefits in the employee handbook helps your staff make decisions, and they can use it as a reference for workplace requirements.

Follow federal and state labor laws

Protect workers’ rights and your business by adhering to labor laws, which means you must ensure that business practices align with industry regulations

Consult the Department of Labor’s federal and state law resources.

Source: SBA | Photo: GettyImages