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New Employee Checklist for SMEs

As you’ve probably discovered, the Fair Work Act requires a fair amount from employers when it comes to hiring new staff. From employment contracts to WHS inductions, you need to be across it all, or risk getting pulled up for unsatisfactory induction practices. The best way to stay on top is to have a streamlined induction process that you use for every new hire.

Think of it this way, it’s not just about meeting your requirements, it’s also an opportunity to induct your new employee into your business objectives, values and company culture. When an employee understands the vision behind their daily work practices, they’ll feel more aligned with the business. This is your chance to foster employee engagement right from the start.

We’re going to start you off with the statutory obligations and best practices you are expected to follow, as outlined by Derek Mamo, National Relationship Manager for HR Assured. Then, we’ve included a list of ideal activities to get your new employee engaged and on board with your vision right from the very start. Use both checklists to feel confident you’ve covered all bases.

Official Requirements Checklist

Step 1: Employment contract

Issue new employees with a written employment contract and ensure the employee returns a signed copy. If you do not have a signed contract that clearly specifies the agreed terms and conditions of employment:

  • disputes over terms of engagement and what was understood / agreed are more likely to arise
  • it may be difficult for you to manage the employee if they do something you don’t like
  • it may be harder for you to dismiss the employee if something goes wrong
  • it will be harder to show you have complied with award obligations to inform the employee of their terms of engagement.

Step 2: Issue the employee with the essential paperwork

  • employee handbook
  • Tax File Number declaration form – lodged with the ATO within 14 days of being completed
  • superannuation and bank details form
  • Fair Work Information Statement – FWIS – and Acknowledgment Form

It is important to be aware that employers are required by law to provide all employees with a FWIS, which provides core rights and entitlements information under the Fair Work Act. Ensure all returned documents are securely placed in a personnel file.

Step 3: Workplace Health and Safety – WHS – induction

  • provide employee with your company’s WHS policy, and an acknowledgement of receipt
  • instruct employee how to report a hazard in the workplace
  • show employee fire exits, fire equipment and first aid facilities
  • inform employee of the first aid officer to assist in the case of an emergency

Step 4: Probationary period

  • specify probationary period
  • set a reminder for the review date
  • set a reminder for the minimum employment period

The probationary period is a time frame during which you decide whether the employee is meeting your expectations.  If a performance plan is created for the new employee, ensure you set a review date well before the employee’s minimum employment period ends.


This will ensure you have enough time to review the employee’s performance, decide whether you want to keep them and, if not, terminate their employment before their minimum employment period expires.

Also note that the Fair Work Act sets a minimum employment period that an employee needs to serve before they are able to make an unfair dismissal claim:

  • 12 months – for small-business employers with fewer than 15 full-time equivalent employees; or
  • 6 months – for all other businesses


Company Culture Induction Checklist

Step 1: Make them feel welcome


It’s easy to focus on getting your new hire up to speed and forget to welcome them into their new job. Make their first day enjoyable by organising the following:

  • Have everyone sign a ‘welcome to the team’ card
  • Decorate their desk with some balloons etc.
  • Have a team lunch together
  • Get everyone to go around in a circle and share something unique about themselves
  • Post a nice welcome on the company’s social media accounts

Step 2: Discuss your company vision and values

In the first few days, it’s important to take your new hire through your company values and vision and what they all mean. Ask your employee what the values mean to them. This will be much easier if you have prepared a document beforehand that explains your values well. Try and stick them up somewhere, and demonstrate how the values guide the actions of employees and the company. Let the employee know how they will be contributing to the vision of the company.

Step 3: Encourage social interaction

Encourage your new employee to ask their colleagues lots of questions to help them settle in (and brief the team beforehand). They might want to ask for advice on the best places to grab coffee or lunch, for example. Aim to have Friday night drinks in the first week. This a great opportunity for your new employee to unwind with their new teammates in a relaxed environment.

Step 4: Outline your expectations

Make sure your new recruit knows exactly what their job description is along with what you expect of them. Don’t leave it up to chance if you don’t want confusion and hassle during their first few weeks! Give them a job description that mentions everything they are supposed to do. Talk to them about how you expect them to achieve the requirements of the role. Will they be measured against KPIs? When is their first performance review? By covering all of this you are giving them the best chance to succeed.

Step 5: Follow up with them!

Have regular check in meetings for the first few weeks. Ask them how everything is going and what challenges they have found. Do they have any questions for you? Perhaps they need advice with something. Are they having any issues with colleagues or tasks? Make sure they know that you are there to support them to be successful in their role. It’s vital that you are accessible to them in their first few weeks so any challenges can be ironed out together! This will make them feel valued and welcome, and will set them up for success.