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10 Must-Have HR Forms for Small Business Employers

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Employers must maintain certain forms to comply with federal, state and local laws, and to help administer HR policies and practices. Here are 10 types of forms for your workplace.

#1: Pre-employment forms

Many employers use application forms, candidate evaluation forms and checklists to help identify qualified candidates during the pre-hire process, and offer letters to formally extend a job opportunity to a candidate. Be sure to review these forms regularly to ensure they comply with applicable laws and best practices. For instance, several state and local jurisdictions have prohibited employers from asking about pay history and certain other information on application forms.

#2: Required new hire forms

Employees must complete paperwork at the time of hire, including a Form W-4 and a Form I-9, and employers must provide certain notices to new hires. For instance, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers must provide a Notice of Coverage Options to all new hires within 14 days of their start date. 

Many states and local jurisdictions also require that employers provide specific notices to employees at the time of hire. For example, California requires employers to provide new hires with notices related to state disability insurance, paid family leave, workers' compensation, and other employment-related protections. Provide new hire notices in accordance with your state and local requirements.

#3: Receipt of company property

If you provide employees with equipment, tools or other company property, use this form to document what was provided to the employee. This can help ensure that all property is returned and accounted for at the time of separation.

#4: Handbook acknowledgments

After providing new hires with a copy of your employee handbook, ask them to sign a form acknowledging that they have received, understand and are responsible for complying with all company policies. Make sure you give employees enough time to read and ask questions about the handbook before they are required to sign the acknowledgment form. Obtain signed acknowledgments when you first issue the handbook, at the time of hire for new employees, and whenever you make changes to the handbook.

#5: Leave of absence requests 

When possible, ask employees to submit requests for time off or other types of leave in writing. In some situations, employers may also request certification of the need for leave. Where leave is required under law, the government agency responsible for enforcement may provide sample forms. For instance, the Department of Labor provides sample forms for leave requests covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

#6: Reasonable accommodation requests

Under certain laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with a disability, or sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the business.

Some states have similar requirements that apply to smaller employers, and some states have laws that require accommodations in additional circumstances, such as when an employee has a pregnancy-related condition. While employees aren't required to make these requests in writing (or even use the term "reasonable accommodation"), make sure you thoroughly document the request, any follow-up discussions, and the resulting accommodation.

#7: Performance and discipline

Document all performance and disciplinary events, whether positive or negative. This includes annual performance reviews, rewards and recognitions, promotions, and disciplinary action, including written and oral warnings, and performance improvement plans. Make sure you have multiple avenues by which employees can submit complaints, including a complaint form.

#8 Training and development

Employers should thoroughly document all training activities and retain records of employee attendance at all completed trainings. Records should include the name of the employee, the date of training, the type of instruction and the training provider.

#9: Business expenses

If employees travel for work, or incur other business-related expenses, instruct them to maintain an expense log and submit reimbursement requests in writing. With more employees continuing to work remotely, you may want to review your reimbursement policy to make sure it accounts for any additional business expenses that employees may incur.

#10: Termination forms

The termination process is a delicate one for employers. Not only is there the human factor that makes it difficult to let someone go, but it also comes with risk of complaints and potential lawsuits. To help promote consistency, consider using a guide to help manage the process and ensure that you follow all appropriate steps, including documenting the reason for separation, complying with final pay requirements, providing the employee with benefits information, furnishing state-required required separation notices and forms, and ensuring the return of company property.


The above are some of the most commonly used HR forms. Your businesses’ size, location and industry may dictate whether you must provide additional forms to employees. When making this determination, consider your business needs as well as all applicable laws. Depending on the nature of the form, documents should either be retained in the employee's personnel file, or a separate confidential file.

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