Skip to content

How to Hire Employees in California

Wherever you operate, hiring new employees means not only searching for the best talent but also staying compliant. Nowhere is this more true than in California, with businesses needing to be aware of notoriously complex labor laws, relating to all stages of the employment process.

For a small business, this can seem overwhelming. How can you recruit and hire great new employees while staying compliant with numerous regulations? The good news is, Paycor can help.

Recruitment Best Practice

Finding star talent is the same everywhere—you need to make sure that the right people know about the open position, you need to be able to filter applications to select for the skills and attributes you need, and you want a streamlined and optimized process so that you can improve your workforce, fast.

Paycor Recruiting offers the technology and expertise to make this a reality. Importantly, it also gives you the tools you need to stay compliant throughout the process. Right now there’s an added later of complexity—you may be doing it remotely. But this situation shouldn’t stop you executing the right recruitment strategy. For best practices, read our step-by-step guide to remote hiring.

Staying Compliant

Now let’s explore the compliance side of hiring employees in California. Some key issues to be aware of are:

  • Avoiding discriminatory practices
  • Complying with data protection
  • Document signing and reportage
  • Informing new employees of their rights

(Remember, while we’re going to concentrate on California-specific legislation, employers should also be fully compliant with all federal laws related to hiring.)

Avoiding Discriminatory Practices

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) goes further than federal law in protecting various groups in the hiring process—its definitions of protected groups are more inclusive and the law itself applies to all companies with at least 5 employees.

To stay compliant, employers should ensure that they do not act questions that may disqualify candidates based on protected statuses, unless related to the essential functions of the relevant position.

When hiring, recruiters should also be wary of investigations into criminal records. Labor Code Section 432.7 dictates that employers may not ask job applicants about arrests that did not lead to conviction, or about pretrial or post-trial diversion programs.

Caution should also be applied to background checks into an applicant’s criminal record—these cannot be used early in the application process, but only for those who progress to later stages.

Data Protection Legislation

California has some of the most extensive data protection legislation in the nation. The state’s Online Privacy Protection Act (California OPPA) restricts the information a website can story without a user’s knowledge. The California Assembly Bill 1844 legislates that employees can’t be required to provide usernames and passwords to their email or social media accounts (except in certain, limited exceptions.)

Background Checks must be compliant with the California Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which provide guidance on the extent of requiring employers may make into applicant’s backgrounds and the select positions for which is permitted to request a credit score.

Document Signing and Reportage

When a new employee is hired (or rehired) in California this must be reported to the New Employee Registry within 20 days of their first day. Employers should also ensure that all the correct forms are signed. These include:

  • A signed job offer letter
  • A Personal Data form (which collects basic personal info like name and birthday)
  • W2 tax form
  • A Federal W4 form
  • A California Withholding certification (a DE 4 California Payroll Tax form)
  • An I-9 form (and supporting documentation)
  • Insurance forms—for Worker’s Compensation & Company Health Insurance
  • A Disability Self-Identification Form (if you do business with the government)

You may also require an employee to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Informing Employees of Their Rights

Compliance legislation doesn’t just cover what new employees need to sign—there’s also a selection of documentation that it’s essential to show them:

Paycor is not a legal, tax, benefit, accounting or investment advisor. All communication from Paycor should be confirmed by your company’s legal, tax, benefit, accounting or investment advisor before making any decisions.

Paycor Recruitment

Paycor Recruiting was built by recruitment professionals, who understand what an Applicant Tracking System needs. To learn more about how we can help you streamline and optimize you recruiting process, talk to a member of our sales team.


recruitment software