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Employee Paperwork

Required Paperwork for Hiring Employees

While some requirements vary from state to state, federal requirements are the same for all states. See the list of legal resources to learn about your own state or review the state’s Department of Labor website. For some states, it is easy to find farm labor requirements; for others you really have to search.

Employee paperwork required by federal law includes the following:

  • Federal Form I-9
  • US Form W-4 (filled out annually)
  • Signed work agreement with conditions of employment in a “language of comfort” for workers (printed notice required for day laborers; must be provided on request to seasonal workers), covering at least:
    • Place of employment;
    • Wages to be paid;
    • Crops and kinds of activities in which the worker is to be employed;
    • Period of employment;
    • Transportation, housing, and any other employee benefits provided, and any costs to be charged to workers for those benefits;
    • Name of any workers’ compensation carrier (if provided), name of the policy holder, name and telephone number for the person to be notified in case of injury or death, and time period for giving notice of injury or death;
    • Existence of any strike, work stoppage, slowdown, or interruption of operations by employees;
    • Whether the employer is paid a commission or receives a benefit for items sold to workers while employed.
  • Record of trainings, regular evaluations, disciplinary actions
  • Employer must have Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Personnel records, kept with a file for each worker. AJP Standards additionally require that workers have access to these files on request (Standard 3.1.4.d.).
  • Payroll records, including records of hours worked. In many states payment must be weekly or every 2 weeks. Federal law requires payment at least every 2 weeks or twice a month. Written pay statements must be provided in a language accessible to employees, and must include:
    • Full name and address of the employer;
    • Basis on which wages are paid (hourly or piece);
    • Hours worked or number of piecework units earned;
    • Total wages paid each pay period, and net pay after any deductions;
    • All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages, with the reason for each deduction clearly indicated;
  • Employers must retain payroll records for at least three years and must include:
    • The employee’s full name and Social Security Number;
    • Time and day of week when the employee’s workweek begins;
    • Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (hourly or piece rate);
    • Regular hourly rate;
    • Hours worked each day, or number of piecework units earned;
    • Total hours worked or piecework units earned each workweek;
    • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings;
    • Total overtime earnings for the workweek (see below for discussion of overtime & agricultural employees);
    • All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages, with the reason for each deduction clearly indicated;
    • Total wages paid each pay period, and net pay after any deductions;
    • Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.

Filling out I-9 Forms #

DHS I-9 Form

Note that employment eligibility verification is a frequent subject of legislative bargaining and debate, so you should consult the most recent Form I-9 for up-to-date instructions and requirements.

Employees should complete Section I of Form I-9 on the first day of employment. Employers should complete Section II of the form within two to three working days. Section III of the form should be completed to reverify employee information, if an employee is rehired within three years of the original employment date or if the previous grant of work authorization has expired but the employee is currently eligible to work on a different basis or under a new grant of work authorization. When completing a Form I-9, employees must provide INS authorization numbers, but they are not required to provide copies of their cards. If employers prepare Form I-9 for their employees, they may ask for the cards in order to verify information. Employers should keep all Forms I-9 for three years from the date of hire or for one year after the termination date, whichever is longer.

Undocumented Workers #

Workers without legal authorization to work are still protected by all the same labor regulations as citizens and authorized laborers. It’s also important to note that despite the common, inflammatory political rhetoric, violations of immigration law are civil infractions, not criminal.

AJP standards require that farm managers treat all workers in the same fair, respectful manner, regardless of their immigration status. Certification audits do not inquire about employees’ immigration status. FJC audits are also confidential. No government representatives are involved and no audit information is shared with the government or any outside entities.