New hire checklist: A step-by-step guide to onboarding employees in Canada


Jun 13, 2023

Great news—you’ve hired your first employee in Canada! The next step is their onboarding process, which can make the difference between a smooth transition and a rocky start in their new role. 

If you nail the onboarding process, you’ll set up your new employee to thrive: 69% of Canadian workers are more likely to remain with their employer if they have a robust and engaging onboarding experience. But if you get it wrong, you risk more than a disengaged employee: you could incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for non-compliance with Canadian labor laws.  

A top-tier onboarding experience has a lot of moving parts, and it takes longer than your new employee's first day (or week, or even month). But our checklist covers what you need to know—from paperwork and compliance to devices, access to apps, training, and a 90-day plan to ensure your new employees are successful well beyond their first day. 

Before their first day

  • Complete an employment background check. Background checks are legal in Canada as long as you get informed consent from job applicants first and collect the least amount of data necessary to ensure the prospective employee will be a good fit for their role. Read our full guide to employment background checks in Canada to learn more.
  • Send an offer letter. An offer letter, referred to in Canada as an employment agreement, is a legal contract between a new hire and their employer. Make sure it includes the right information to be compliant with Canadian labor laws: employee information (including the new hire's position and contact info), their working hours, compensation and benefits, your termination policy, and any other details relevant to your company. An offer letter must be signed before an employee starts their first day of work. Read our full guide on creating offer letters for employees in Canada.
  • Do the necessary paperwork. Beyond the employment agreement, common forms include tax documents, legal agreements, and non-disclosure agreements. Depending on your onboarding software, setting up these documents might involve multiple email chains with stakeholders and signatories across the organization. 
  • Enroll them in benefits. Pension, employment insurance, and vacation time are all mandatory benefits in Canada, and the amounts vary by state and territory (find the breakdown in our guide to employee benefits in Canada).
  • Add them to payroll. You have to pay Canada-based employees in Canadian dollars (CAD) unless you’ve specifically obtained their written permission to pay them in a different currency. Under Canadian law, you’ll also need to request tax credits forms to ensure you calculate each full-time employee’s payroll deductions just right. Check out our full guide to running payroll for employees in Canada.
  • Order and configure their devices. Whether your new employee will be working on site or remotely, they need the right tools for their job. Before their first day, order and configure any devices they need so your new hire can hit the ground running.
  • Set up their app accounts. Is there anything more frustrating than trying to start work and realizing you still need access to email… and Slack… and Zoom… and Figma… etc.? Help your new hires by setting up their app accounts ahead of their first day, so everything is ready for a smooth (and fast) sign-in when they reach their start date.
  • Prepare any resources they'll need. These can include:
    • Their own copy of your onboarding checklist
    • An employee handbook and copies of any other company policies they need to know
    • Your company's mission statement and a brief about your company culture and values
    • A team directory
    • An overview of their first day
    • Their job description and top priorities
    • Any other role-specific resources they may need
  • Schedule their orientation (and a get-to-know-you event with the team!). Schedule your new hire's orientation events—like 1:1s with their manager, meetings with their team, or even getting-to-know-you events for their first day. Send out invites now, so everyone who needs to attend can block their time.
  • Assign them an onboarding buddy or mentor. Onboarding will go more smoothly if your new hire has one point person who can guide them through the process, answer their questions, and make introductions. Assign that person before their first day so they have time to prepare to welcome a new face to the team.
  • Send a welcome email. As your new hire's first day approaches, create a welcome email with all the details about what to expect on their first day. This can include a first-day agenda, notes on your office dress code, FAQ about their first day—whatever they may need to feel comfortable and excited about starting their new job.

On Day 1

  • Make sure their workspace is set up. If your new employee works in-person, make sure their office, desk, or workspace is set up for their first day with their devices—and maybe some fun decorations to welcome them to the team. A welcoming work environment creates a great first impression by helping your new hire feel appreciated right off the bat.
  • Give them an agenda or plan to help them get started. If their welcome email didn't include an agenda or plan for their first few days, have that ready for your new hire when they arrive on their start date. They'll feel much more confident digging in if they know exactly what to expect on the first day and beyond.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with their manager. One of the first things a new hire should do on their first day is have a 1:1 with their supervisor or manager. This gives them a chance to be properly welcomed, and get answers to any immediate questions they may have as they dive into their new job.
  • Schedule a 1:1 with their onboarding buddy or mentor. Next up is a 1:1 with the person who will be guiding your new hire through the onboarding experience. Schedule time for your new hire to meet them and get acquainted.
  • Have a get-to-know-you event with their team or closest peers. If there's time on your new hire's first day, schedule a get-to-know-you event with as many of the people they'll be working closely with as possible. This can be casual—a team lunch is a great option.
  • Give an office tour. If your new hire will be working on site, make sure to give them an office tour on their first day. Don't forget important safety information, like where the bathrooms, break areas, and fire extinguishers are.
  • Provide them with a list of contacts. Finally, provide your new hire with a "cheat sheet" of people on the team they can reach out to for help while they learn the ropes. It's also a great idea to note each team member's department, role, and contact information (phone number, email, Slack handle, and whatever else is relevant at your company), so the new hire can find the right person to answer specific questions.

During their first 90 days

  • Schedule organizational and role-specific training. Keep in mind that your new hire's goal in their first months should be to learn about their new company and their purpose within it. Start them off with organizational training, where they're tasked with learning about the company, its goals, its purpose, and its values. Then, slowly pivot to role-specific training that will help them learn specific skills and information they'll need to succeed in their position.
  • Assign work and help them set goals. A new hire can only do and learn so much—expect there to be a learning curve and be careful not to overload them with too much work in their first few months. One great way to set goals in the beginning is using a framework like SMART goals—setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This will help give your new hire clear targets to work toward so they don't get stuck in a trap of not knowing exactly what to do in their first weeks and months in their role.
  • Schedule regular check-ins and mentorship to help them stay on track. Schedule time with your new hire to discuss progress on their goals and answer any new questions they may have. A check-in at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days is a good place to start, but stay flexible in case they want to schedule more frequent meetings than that.
  • Offer regular feedback as they get settled in. Don't leave your new hire wondering about their performance during their first few months. Give them regular feedback so they know when they're on track—and when they need to redirect so they can better meet their goals.
  • Seek their feedback on how you can improve the onboarding experience. And finally, keep in mind that feedback goes both ways. Seek feedback from all new employees about their onboarding experience and how it can be improved for future hires.

Onboarding new employees in Canada is easy—and fast—with Rippling

If you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers in Canada, you need more than just a new hire checklist: you need Rippling. 

Rippling makes it easy to onboard and manage employees and contractors around the world—in one system that helps keep you compliant with local employment laws and regulations.

And with Rippling, onboarding new employees is a breeze. Complete and verify background checks, write and send offer letters, send, sign, and store digital documents, and localize onboarding materials to your new hire's home country—all from one centralized location.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: April 17, 2024

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.