Many businesses are drawn to expanding into the United States, and hiring qualified employees is a critical part of any business’ growth. However, hiring employees in the U.S. is a complicated process. There are different procedures for each state, and there are also federal regulations to take into account. Without understanding the procedures, hiring mistakes are inevitable and they can have a significant impact on the company’s financials, and sometimes lead to legal issues.
Below, we will list some of the most important things employers need to know about hiring employees in the US.
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To hire employees in the United States, employers must first know whether they are hiring a citizen or not. Citizens are those who have been granted citizenship by birth or through naturalization; they can work anywhere in the country without any restrictions. Non-citizens on the other hand can only work within their specific visa category limitations which may restrict them from working outside their home state or region. Both citizens and non-citizens must have a social security number to be employed within the United States.
Employers must complete an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for each new employee they hire and retain a copy for their records. This requirement applies to both citizen and non-citizen hires. The form is used to verify the identity and employment eligibility of the new hire and the employee to be hired needs to provide the required information and documents (passport, social security number, driver’s license, etc.) for verification purposes.
In most states in the United States, employers can hire employees on an “at-will” basis, meaning they can terminate them at any time for legal reasons. Equivalently, an employee can also terminate his/her employment at any time for legal reasons. However, it is important to note that certain exceptions and restrictions apply in some cases.
Employment contracts are legal agreement that outlines the terms of employment between an employer and an employee. Employment contracts are not required in the United States. However, they are often used to protect the employer and employee.
The contract should include the following:
- The name of the employer and employee
- The effective date of the contract
- The job title and description
- The salary or wage
- Benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, etc.
- Any additional compensation (e.g. commission or bonus)
- Hours of work per week
- Vacation time, sick days, holidays, etc.
- Other company policies such as confidentiality, non-compete, probationary period, and termination
The contract is legally binding and both parties must abide by its terms. The contract should be prepared with legal counsel according to the state the company is located in and the state the employee works in, if different.
A probation period is a trial period of employment. It is a time when the employer and employee are testing each other to see if they are a good fit for the job. The probationary period can be anywhere from one week to six months, depending on the company and the arrangement made between the employee and the employer, and as defined in the employment agreement.
The minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage applies to most employees, with some exceptions.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, but some states and cities have a higher minimum wage than the federal level. For example, New York’s minimum wage is $13.20 per hour and Massachusetts’ is $14.25. Some states, such as Georgia, have a minimum wage less than the federal minimum. In those cases, the federal minimum wage outweighs the states’.
Employers must withhold income taxes from their employee’s paychecks and send those withheld taxes to the appropriate federal and state agencies periodically (weekly, monthly, quarterly). With so many different states, there are a lot of differences in taxes, income thresholds, unemployment rates, and other factors that affect payroll costs. To correctly calculate payroll and withholdings, employers should be aware that each state has its own set of regulations.
All employees, excluding contractors, must complete a W-4 form and a State Withholding Allowance Form, if applicable, as some states do require income tax. It is also important to note that some employees may have more tax withheld from their paychecks than others.
Working Hours & Overtime
In the United States, The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that a typical workweek is 40 hours in a 160-hour period. Any hours more than this are considered overtime. Overtime pay is calculated as 150% of the employee’s hourly wage. However, there are many industries and professions that do not require the employer to pay overtime due to the nature of the job.
Within a working day or shift, most employers are required to provide regular breaks for their employees. The laws regarding breaks may vary by state and profession. For example, in California, employees must be given a 15-minute break for working 4 to 6 hours and a 30-minute break for working 6 consecutive hours.
Employers are always looking for ways to attract and retain the best talent. One way to do this is by providing benefits that employees value. Some of the popular benefits include paid time off, health, dental, and vision insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans.
The only mandatory benefits that employers are required to provide include worker’s compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, and in some states, paid sick leave.
Hiring in the U.S. may be complicated with different federal, state, and local laws. Our expert People & Culture team is experienced in hiring in all 50 states and can ensure that your new employee is a match for you, all while ensuring the process is done legally. Not only do we find the best employee for the position, but we also handle the paperwork, employment agreement, onboarding, and payroll, and we will be there with you every step of the way. Click here for further information on our services, or call us at 404-900-1040.