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How to hire employees in Washington State

Hiring employees in Washington state

As a small or mid-sized business owner hiring employees in Washington state, you might be looking for more information on how to find and hire the right candidates. Washington state offers plenty of work opportunities, recreation and other benefits that attract many quality candidates.


To hire your first employee or to add to your existing team, it’s important to understand hiring best practices. This includes state requirements as an employer, local job trends, searching for local or remote candidates and understanding hiring and employment requirements in Washington state.


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Registering as an employer

Before you can hire any employees for your business, you’ll need to register as a business and employer. File a Business License Application with Washington state before you plan to hire your first employee but no sooner than 90 days. Once submitted, your business will be registered for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Following your application, you’ll be required to file quarterly reports to both the Department of Labor & Industries and the Employment Security Department regarding wages and hours even if you do not have any active employees. Make sure to file these reports on time to avoid penalties and interest.


Check local areas before you post your job

According to PayScale, the average salary in Washington state is $76,000, and the average hourly rate is $20.32. Washington state’s cost of living is higher than average. These are factors to consider when posting your job. Check other job postings and salary reports in the area to see how your advertised salary compares.


When reviewing other job postings, note trends in job titles and keywords. In addition to a detailed list of employee duties, incorporate relevant keywords in the description, and write a clear job title.


Links to city stats, research postings on indeed analytics

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Assess candidates in Washington state

As you start to receive resumes from candidates, you can compare their qualifications to your own requirements and preferences to narrow your hiring pool. Consider how well aligned their resume is to the skills and experience indicated in your job description, and look for evidence in their resume as to how thoroughly they meet these requirements.


Craft a compelling job description with an attractive job title according to local trends. Summarize the advertised role with the following information:

  • Overview and unique qualities of your company
  • Key duties and responsibilities
  • Working conditions
  • Salary or wage
  • Benefits, perks and incentives
  • Education and experience requirements

Once you’ve filtered resumes into a list of ideal candidates, screen each applicant with either a phone call or email communication. From there, you can determine which employees you’d like to interview. Check out Indeed’s detailed guide on how to hire employees. If you’re hiring for the first time, take a look at how to hire your first employee.


Consider expanding your search to remote candidates

If your job allows for remote work, you might consider expanding your search to other candidates within the state. When hiring employees in Washington state, you can search in areas where salaries or costs of living are lower. This way, you may be able to offer a lower compensation package that meets the needs of the candidate’s area.


Follow Washington state hiring guidelines

Once you decide on your right hire, make sure to comply with all Washington state hiring guidelines. This means completing the necessary new hire forms, filing reports and setting up payroll information. Also, consider the type of employee that you’ve hired. Adult hires don’t have any special restrictions, but minors under 18 and 16 have respective restrictions, and hiring them requires a permit to employ minors. Contractors are not categorized as employees.


New hire forms for Washington state

As part of the onboarding process for new employees, you’ll file the necessary Washington state employment forms. New hire paperwork in Washington includes tax documents, payroll information and the employment contract or agreement. As a best practice, provide your new employee with any documents or information about their role and your workplace policies as well as a point of contact for further questions. This includes:

  • Job application form
  • Employee handbook
  • Background check forms
  • Direct deposit form
  • Confidentiality agreement
  • Offer letter
  • Benefits

In Washington state, employers are required to complete IRS Form W-4 to withhold income tax from workers’ pay and USCIS Form I-9 to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. These forms will be kept in your files rather than submitted to a government agency. Review the necessary identification and ensure that the forms are accurately completed.


New hire paperwork in Washington state

Washington state requires that employers report all new hires within 20 days. This includes rehired employees that have not worked for at least 60 consecutive days or new employees that have worked no hours since hiring. If you’re reporting for the first time, only report employees hired since your last quarterly report to the Employment Security Department.


New hire reports can be completed online or by fax, mail or phone and must include the following information:


Employee Information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Date of birth
  • Date of hire

Employer Information:

  • Business name
  • Business address
  • Federal employer ID number (EIN)

Payroll in Washington state

Once you’ve completed all the necessary forms and obtained your employee’s information, you’ll need to establish a payroll system. There’s a variety of software to help you manage your payroll and keep accurate records. You can run your payroll yourself or give the responsibility to your accountant.


Consider features such as:

  • Direct deposit
  • Tracking employee hours
  • Vacation or paid time off
  • Federal and state filings
  • Accounting software integration/compatibility

Set up your pay period by determining how often your employees will be paid and when the first pay period starts and ends. When setting up pay, keep in mind how you’ll compensate for variables, such as overtime, and account for the appropriate deductions.


Posting signs in Washington state

Any business with employees in Washington state is required to display three respective posters in the workplace to inform employees of their rights and responsibilities. You don’t need new posters each year as long as they’re the current version. Select the right form if you’re either part of the state workers’ compensation fund or are self-insured. These posters are provided for free and can be downloaded or ordered online in English, Spanish and other languages.


The forms required include:

  • Notice to Employees – If a Job Injury Occurs
  • Job Safety and Health Law
  • Your Rights as a Worker

You may also be required to display certain federal notices.

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