What do I need to do to hire my first employee?

Hiring process

Hiring your first employee marks a significant step in your business journey. It requires a blend of strategic planning and meticulous adherence to legal obligations. This article will walk you through each step of the process, focusing on the practical and legal aspects relevant to Florida-based businesses.

1. Define the Role

Practical Steps:

  • Assess Business Needs: Take a deep dive into your current business operations to pinpoint exactly why you need an employee and what gap they will fill. This helps in tailoring the job description to attract candidates who are a good fit for the role.
  • Craft a Detailed Job Description: Your job description should go beyond just listing duties; it should outline the day-to-day responsibilities, required qualifications, skills, and any specific software or tools the candidate should be proficient in. Also, include information about the work environment and company culture.

Example: For a tech startup in Tampa, you might need a software developer proficient in specific programming languages, who will also contribute to product development meetings and collaborate with the design team.

2. Legal Obligations and Considerations

Florida-Specific Steps:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): An EIN is mandatory for all employers and is used for reporting taxes to the IRS. The process is straightforward and can be completed online through the IRS website.
  • Register for Florida Reemployment Tax: Any business in Florida paying over $300 in wages within a calendar quarter must register for the Reemployment Tax. This is Florida's version of unemployment insurance. Registration can be done online through the Florida Department of Revenue.
  • Compliance with Florida Labor Laws: It’s crucial to understand laws around minimum wage, overtime, and breaks to ensure compliance. Florida’s minimum wage is subject to annual adjustments based on inflation. As of my last update, make sure to verify the current rate.

3. Financial Planning

Practical Steps:

  • Budgeting for Additional Costs: Beyond salary, budget for employer contributions to social security and Medicare, unemployment taxes, and any benefits you plan to offer. Since Florida does not have a state income tax, this simplifies payroll processing somewhat but doesn't eliminate other tax considerations.
  • Payroll System Setup: Choosing between in-house payroll processing or an external payroll service provider depends on your business size and complexity. These systems can automate tax withholdings, wage reporting, and end-of-year tax forms for your employees.

Example: Small businesses might find external payroll services like ADP or QuickBooks Payroll beneficial for their comprehensive features and compliance support.

4. Recruitment Process

Practical Steps:

  • Effective Job Posting: Utilize both broad and niche job boards to post your listing. Including industry-specific boards can help in reaching candidates with the desired expertise.
  • Structured Interview Process: Create a consistent interview process to fairly evaluate all candidates. This includes preparing a set of questions that align with the job requirements and using a scoring system to objectively assess candidates’ responses.

Example: For creative positions, platforms like Behance or Dribbble can be effective, alongside LinkedIn and Indeed.

5. Workplace Posters and Regulations

Florida Legal Requirements:

  • Obtain and Display Required Posters: Federal and Florida-specific employment law posters must be visibly displayed at your workplace. These cover various rights and responsibilities under labor laws.
  • Verification of Work Eligibility: The Form I-9 is required for all employees to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. This process should be completed within three days of the employee's start date.

6. Onboarding Process

Practical Steps:

  • Comprehensive Employee Handbook: An employee handbook is invaluable for communicating your company’s policies, culture, and expectations. It should cover everything from dress code and office hours to leave policies and disciplinary procedures.
  • Detailed Orientation Plan: Your onboarding process should include a detailed orientation plan that helps new hires acclimate to their roles and the company culture. This may involve shadowing a colleague, training sessions, and regular check-ins during the initial period.

Example: Developing an onboarding checklist can help ensure no crucial step is missed, from providing necessary equipment to setting up email and access to any required software.

7. Insurance and Employee Benefits

Florida-Specific Considerations:

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: In Florida, businesses in the construction industry must have workers' compensation insurance if they have one or more employees. Non-construction businesses need it when they have four or more employees. However, it's a good practice to have it from your first hire to protect against potential workplace injuries.
  • Benefits Planning: While small businesses in Florida are not required to offer health insurance, doing so can make your


Hiring your first employee is both an exciting and daunting task. By following these practical and legal steps, you can ensure a smooth hiring process that complies with laws and sets up your employee and business for success. Remember, the key to successful hiring lies in careful planning, understanding legal obligations, and creating a welcoming and supportive work environment.

About the Author:

A person in a suit and tie

Description automatically generated Chase Carpenter is a partner in the Business Division of Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A.. His practice revolves around business transactions and business litigation. Mr. Carpenter handles a wide range of cases including contract drafting, partnership disputes, commercial leases, and construction litigation. These cases encompass diverse industries, including healthcare, technology, real estate investment, and government contracting.

About the Firm:

The Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A., also known as MSD Business, is a local business law firm in Tampa, FL, serving clients throughout Fort Lauderdale and statewide. Our firm has a long history of helping clients navigate all types of complex legal matters, including local and state tax issues. In our business law practice, we assist clients with everything from mergers and acquisitions to contract disputes, business litigation, general counsel, and more.