How to Hire Your First Employee in Florida

Last updated: July 1, 2022
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How to Hire Your First Florida Employee

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Objective:

To hire and onboard your first employee according to the requirements of both federal and Florida state law.

Additional Information:

Finding the right help for your Florida business can be challenging, especially if you’re hiring your first employee. While you’ll need to sort through all those applications on your own, our firm understands that the legal side of employment can be especially intimidating, and we’re here to help. This guide will walk you through the paperwork you’ll need to file to hire your first employee in Florida. We’ll also cover some of the taxes and regulations that your business will need to pay and adhere to. For tips on navigating the legal risks involved in the process of hiring your first employee in Florida, you can read our Insight here.

Procedure:

Obtaining an Employment Identification Number

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The U.S. Internal Revenue Service requires business owners to obtain an employment identification number, also known as an EIN, before you hire your first employee in Florida. This is used to uniquely identify a business. To get an EIN, you must file IRS Form SS-4, which can be downloaded on the IRS website.  

Federal Employee Withholding Tax

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The next step to hiring your first employee in Florida is to have them complete a W-4 form, known as a Withholding Exemption Certificate. This form is used to calculate how much of your employee’s wages will need to be withheld for Federal Income Tax. You’ll need a W-4 for each of your employees, and you should keep the original form for at least four years after the employment tax was either due or paid. However, we recommend keeping these documents on hand for at least five years. You won’t need to submit your W-4s to the IRS. That said, if a situation arises where they ask to see your employee’s W-4s, you must provide them with the original documents. Copies won’t suffice.

Federal Employment Eligibility Verification

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Next, you’ll need to have your new Florida employee fill out an I-9 form to verify their eligibility for employment in the United States. The employee can prove their eligibility with a U.S. passport, a state driver’s license, or a state birth certificate. A complete list of appropriate documents can be found on the I-9 form. You have three days from the employee’s hire date to complete verification by submitting the employee’s information to E-Verify. Like the W-4, you don’t need to submit your I-9s to any federal agencies, but you do need to keep them on record for a minimum of three years after the employee leaves the company.

Reporting New Hires

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If hiring your first employee, you should know that the state of Florida requires all employers to report each new hire to the Florida Department of Revenue using a Florida New Hire Reporting Form. Employers have twenty days after hiring the employee to either mail for the form to the listed address or to fax it to the listed number.

Obtaining Workers Compensation Insurance

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Most major insurance carriers provide workers compensation insurance. You can apply for an exemption for an individual employee from this requirement with the state of Florida online, although the eligibility requirements for exemption are different for those in the construction industry and those who aren’t.

Register for Florida Unemployment (Reemployment Assistance)

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Employers in Florida pay for reemployment assistance, also known as unemployment, through a tax paid to the Florida Department of Revenue. The tax then goes into a fund that eligible, unemployed Floridians can draw from while looking for a job. This is one of the costs for employers doing business in Florida. Companies are forbidden from making payroll deductions for this purpose. If your business has a record of stable employment, then it can receive a lower rate after a qualifying period.

Florida businesses have a month following the quarter that the employee was hired to report the initial employment. The Department recommends that employers use their secure website to register and pay the reemployment tax.

Employers Required to Pay Reemployment Tax

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Employers must pay this tax if:

  • Quarterly payroll is more than $1,500.00 for a given calendar year.
  • They are liable for federal unemployment tax.
  • You have one or more employees for a day during any 20 weeks in a calendar year, even if the employee only worked for a portion of the day
  • They are an agricultural employer with either:
    • five or more workers for a day during any 20 weeks in a calendar year, even if the employees only worked for a fraction of the day.
    • a cash payroll of $10,000.00 or more in any calendar quarter.
  • They are a domestic employer paying $1,000.00 or more in cash for services in any calendar quarter.
  • They purchased all or a part of a business that was liable for paying Florida reemployment tax, or if the sum of the existing payroll and employment added to that of the business purchased meets the criteria for liability.

The initial tax rate for new employers is 2.7% of the first $7,000.00 in wages paid to each employee during a calendar year. Any amount exceeding that $7,000.00 is not subject to Florida’s reemployment tax. However, excess wages can never be higher than gross wages. Employers must turn in Form RT-6 – an Employer’s Quarterly Report – by the first day of the month following the end of each calendar quarter. It will be counted as late if it is not postmarked by the last day of the month. The report for the first quarter is due by April 30, the second quarter by July 31, the third quarter by October 31, and the fourth quarter by January 31.

Display Employment Law Posters

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The final step of hiring your first employee is to conspicuously display the informational posters required by Florida law. Service businesses in Florida with anywhere between one and ten employees must clearly post the following employment law posters. There may be more posters if your situation changes, such as if you start providing other kinds of services. At a minimum, you’ll need:

  1. Florida Minimum Wage Poster
  2. Employee Polygraph Protection Act
  3. Federal Minimum Wage Poster
  4. Occupational Safety and Health Act
  5. Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

Wage and Tax Statement

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IRS Form W-2 is used to report employee wages and tax withholdings. Business owners don’t need to file W-2 form with the state of Florida because our state doesn’t collect income tax. However, the IRS still requires employers to file a W-2 for each employee, or if any income, social security, or Medicare taxes are withheld. Every business is also required to provide a w2 statement to each employee before January 31 of each year.

Now that you know how to hire your first employee in Florida, it’s time for an Employment Agreement. An attorney-drafted Employment Agreement is an integral part of protecting yourself from liability as an employer. For more, visit our flat fee service page or call us at (727) 279-5037.

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