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Hiring your first California Employee! 😎

Hiring Your First California Employee: The Ultimate Challenge Guide 😎

Finding Your Golden State Gem!

You’ve finally found “the one.” But surprise, surprise! This one isn’t about romantic partners; it’s about your next potential employee residing in the picturesque landscapes of California. When the perfect candidate you want to hire lives in the Golden State, the hiring journey becomes a unique adventure!

Over the years, we’ve worked with numerous clients with employees in California, a talent pool that growing, innovative companies should not overlook.  However, California comes with challenging HR Compliance requirements, which can be difficult for smaller companies without an in-house HR resource.  This is where having a fractional HR partner can make the challenge, a breeze!  We recently assisted our Tennessee-based client in this process.  They had found their ideal Software Developer (yes, their “one”) in sunny San Diego. Being a fractional HR partner, it was our role to ensure a smooth onboarding process for this new hire in a state they hadn’t operated within.  Knowing the challenge of being a California Employer, even adding one employee requires adhering to many of the state’s regulations.

Here’s an overview of how this process looks:

Step 1: The Right Recruiting Process

Your search might kick off with hunting for potential candidates. With this client, the ideal candidate was an employee referral, skipping the need for a formal job posting. But, if you’re casting your sourcing or recruiting net in California with a job posting, remember:

  • Salary Transparency: You are required to include a salary range in your job postings.
  • Asking Candidates about Past Salary? A Big No! California laws prevent you from inquiring about a candidate’s past salary or salary history. Instead, check if they’re comfortable with your proposed salary range and ask what their requirements are for the role.

Step 2: Making an Offer

Identified the Californian gem you wish to onboard? Brace yourself; the exciting part is just beginning!

  • Criminal History Checks: Under the California Fair Chance Act, criminal background checks are a post-offer, pre-employment activity (as they should be). A pro tip here is ensure your offer is conditional on clearing the background check as well as completing the I9 requirements.  If you don’t have a solid Offer Letter Template outlining offer contingencies- you can download one from our HR Shop.  And remember, contingent offers should be well crafted (like our templates), as rescinding an offer can get tricky.
  • Offer Letters: California requires that offer letters contain specific provisions like exact work location. Even with a remote employee, working from their home in California – best practice is to be specific and include their home address.

Step 3: The Onboarding Process

Feeling good so far? The real challenge begins now with new employee onboarding:

  • California Information Packet: Present them with a new hire kit that elaborates on state laws and mandates.  We’ve put a comprehensive list together that you can download here.  Keep in mind some of these materials might require you to fill in specific details about your new hire.

Step 4: The Handbook Update

Lastly, your company’s handbook will need to be updated, California is “extra” on many things, especially policies around how you hire, pay, track and manage leave and most importantly how you exit employees (and yes, even with one California employee, you must be compliant with these provisions).

  • Handbook Addendum: Incorporating all California-compliant policies into your current handbook may be a challenge so at the very least, consider adding an addendum for the California provisions to your handbook.  This should include state-specific information regarding disability entitlements, availability of paid family leave, PTO accrual, employee exiting and all of the other “extra” California provisions!


Congratulations! Your business is now ready to embrace the Cali vibe with your first employee from the state. With the right guidance and tools, this process becomes a breeze.

If however, you ever feel overwhelmed, remember, the Hire Ventures HR and Talent Team is here to make it easy for you!

Happy Hiring!  

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