How to hire your first employee in Georgia
Is your small business generating more work than you can handle on your own? Congratulations—looks like it’s time to add your first employee to the team! We’re here to help you hire your new employee efficiently (and also to help you make sure you’ve done all the paperwork necessary).
In Part 1, we’ll talk about preparations for making the hire, and in Part 2, we’ll walk you through the actual hiring process.
- Make a hiring plan
- Apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Get your business ready for payroll taxes
- Put together your employee handbook
- Get workers’ compensation and other employment coverages
- Get ready to run payroll
- Write your job description
- Get the word about about the job
- Interview top applicants
- Make the hire and onboard your new employee
- Report your hire to the State of Georgia
Ready? Let’s get you all set to make your GA new hire.
Part 1: Preparations for hiring employees in Georgia
Expanding your team is exciting, so you might be tempted to immediately post the job description and begin talking to applicants. But that’s not the best idea if this is your first time going through the hiring process. The fact is, you need to get your business set up and ready for employment before you even think about starting interviews. Here’s how to do that:
1. Make a hiring plan
Before you do anything, you need to get organized. So pull out your calendar and sketch out a plan and hiring timeline—even if it’s a little rough. Remember to consider the amount of time it will take to get all your hiring paperwork in order, to finalize the new insurance coverages you’ll need, and get your small business completely ready to take on an employee. After that, you’ll need at least a few weeks to find potential employees, screen their applicant materials, and conduct interviews. Finally, be sure to leave some time for hiring and onboarding.
A word of advice for constructing your timeline: Almost every step of the hiring process will take longer than you think it will. Build in a week or two of buffer time.
2. Apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You might already have an Employer Identification Number (often shortened to EIN), which is basically how the federal government recognizes your business for tax purposes. However, if you don’t already have one, now’s the time to apply. (You’re required to have an EIN now that you’re hiring an employee.)
Luckily, getting an EIN is pretty simple, and you can do it right now if you have a few minutes. Tap here to get your Employment Identification Number from the IRS website.
3. Get your business ready for payroll taxes
Now that you’re an employer, you’ll need to get your business ready to withhold taxes from your employee’s paycheck and then pass those funds along to the State of Georgia. To do that, you’ll need to register your business at the Georgia Tax Center.
For more detailed information on withholding taxes in Georgia, visit the Georgia Department of Revenue to download your Employer’s Tax Guide.
4. Put together your employee handbook
First, let’s talk about what an employee handbook is, because—let’s be honest—writing one from scratch can sound a bit intimidating. But an employee handbook is just a collection of written information that helps employees understand your expectations and how your business works.
And there’s no need to write a book, either. An employee handbook can be as long or as short as you like. A simple document that explains your basic rules and policies will go a long way toward helping your new employee feel comfortable—even if it’s just a few pages long.
If you need a few ideas to get you started, check out this article on what to include in your new employee handbook. (Need a little more inspiration? Take a few minutes to Google “sample Georgia employee manuals.” You’ll probably get more material than you need.)
5. Get workers’ compensation and other employment coverages
A workers’ compensation policy protects your employees if they ever get injured or sick because they work for your Georgia small business. It’ll pay out to cover lost wages, medical bills, and any ongoing rehabilitation costs. Workers’ comp isn’t technically required in Georgia until you have at least three employees, but just about every small business should get it as soon as they hire their first employee.
Why? Well, if you choose to go without coverage, you and your business will be legally responsible for paying the cost of any lawsuits or medical bills that happen because of a workplace injury. And the cost for that could go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—or more. (Trust us: Going without workers’ comp isn’t worth the risk.)
A quick warning: If you apply for workers’ comp the traditional way, it can take weeks to fill out all the paperwork and get coverage. So make sure you allow plenty of time for it! (Alternatively, you can get workers’ comp through Huckleberry in about 5 minutes—it’s all online and easy.)
Another insurance policy that most small businesses forget is Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). This coverage can protect your business financially if you’re ever sued for some kind of discriminatory or illegal employment practice. EPLI isn’t required in Georgia, but—let’s face it—employment law is always changing and it’s pretty hard for a small business owner to keep up with the latest regulations. An EPLI policy can be a great way to get some peace of mind (especially if you don’t have an employment lawyer).
Finally, if you haven’t purchased a Business Owner’s Policy (or, at least, general liability coverage), this is a great time to close that gap. (Both of these policies are easy to add to a Huckleberry workers’ comp policy.)
6. Get ready to run payroll
A hundred years ago, you could pay your employees by handing them cash at the end of the day. We probably don’t need to tell you that it’s not that way anymore! Now, running payroll is a fairly complicated task which involves managing deductions, paying on a strict schedule, and keeping detailed records of every transaction.
Is it an extra expense? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Outsourcing your payroll will save you a ton of time and, ultimately, that means you’ll save money, too.
Part 2: How to hire employees in Georgia
Now that your business is ready for an employee, let’s look at the hiring process—one step at a time.
1. Write your job description
This is the big one. If you want to attract the right applicant for your business, you’ll need to think carefully about how to describe the job. First impressions matter.
One good way to approach this task is to take a few minutes to imagine your ideal employee, and then make a short list of aspects of the job they’d be interested in. After you’ve made that list, take a good look. Which aspect of the job would your ideal employee be most interested in?
Once you’ve figured out the #1 selling point of the job, you know where to start your job description. Put that aspect at the top. Then fill in with the other aspects of the job that the perfect team member would love. If you want someone ambitious and with leadership potential, highlight the opportunities to learn new skills and to progress in their career. If you need someone who will be happy outdoors, be sure to mention that they’ll be spending a lot of time in the fresh air.
Getting stuck? Take a look at other job descriptions in your industry. (But don’t just copy them—your goal is to figure out how to differentiate yourself!)
2. Get the word out about the job
The next big question to answer: How will applicants find out about your job?
Most small business owners start with online job search websites, but you definitely don’t want to stop there. Your best new employee might not be on job search websites—in fact, they may not even be looking for a job. That’s why it’s important to expand your search into offline channels. Put job flyers where potential candidates can see them in their daily lives. And be sure to call your local college to see if they’ll advertise your job at their career center (they’re usually happy to do so).
Finally, don’t forget word-of-mouth. Ask your friends and family members whether they know any qualified applicants (but be careful—hiring someone you know can be a little risky).
3. Interview top applicants
This is a huge topic, and there are plenty of books and websites which cover it better than we could here. A brief word of advice, though: When you’re interviewing candidates, pay attention to whether or not you enjoy being around them. After all, this is a person you could potentially spend a lot of time with—you want to be sure it’s a good situation for everyone.
If you’d like a little more advice about interviewing, check out this quick guide to interviewing and hiring your first employee. (And, seriously, don’t forget to read a book or two if you want more in-depth advice.)
4. Make the hire and onboard your new employee
Found your perfect employee? Fantastic. It’s time to get the paperwork started. Here’s a list of all the Georgia forms you’ll need to hire your employee:
- A job offer letter, signed by your new employee.
- A pre-employment and background check consent
- A W2 Tax Form
- The I-9 Form and Supporting Documents, which will prove your employee’s right to work in the United States
- A Direct Deposit Authorization Form
- A Federal W-4 Form
- A State G-4 form
- A Security Questionnaire and Loyalty Oath
- An Employee Personal Data Form
- The Company Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy Forms
- A Medical and Physical Examination Program
- The ACA acknowledgement
- The GSEPS auto-enrollment acknowledgement
- An Acknowledgement of policies
- The outside employment disclosure form, if your employee is working anywhere else
- An outside wages and other monies beneficiary election
- The FLSA form
- Mass transit payroll deduction (if applicable)
Next, here are all the federal and state posters you’re legally required to print and display in Georgia:
- Anti-Discrimination Notice Poster
- Equal Employment Opportunity Act/Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Job Safety and Health Protection Posters (OSHA)
- Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA)
- Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
- Workers Compensation Posters (English or Spanish)
5. Report your hire to the State of Georgia.
Hey, you’re almost finished. The final step in the hiring process is to head over to the Georgia New Hire Reporting Center to let them know you’ve made a hire. You can make your report online or the old-fashioned way—through the post office. (If you’ve set up your payroll service, you can also see if they’re set up to report the hire on your behalf. Many of them will!)
However you make the hire, you’ll need to report the following information.
- The name of your business
- Your business address
- Your federal tax ID number
- Employee’s name
- Employee’s social security number
- Employee’s address
- Employee’s date of birth
- Employee’s medical insurance availability (a yes or no question)
- The date your employee started paid work
- The state you hired them in
Hey, we hope this was helpful. Remember—while hiring your new employee may involve a lot of paperwork, getting workers’ comp doesn’t have to. In fact, you can get an estimate on your workers’ comp rate in about 60 seconds. It’s online and easy.