End of Year HR ChecklistDec 08, 2020
For many of us, 2020 was a year of “firsts” and trying new things, not by choice, but by necessity. Whatever challenges or opportunities this past year may have given you, I hope you are coming into the holiday season feeling renewed, calm, and hopeful for the year ahead.
As we see more snowflakes in the air and Christmas decorations appear in our neighborhoods, it’s easy to become distracted with the flurry of the holidays. I am coming to you today to share a few reminders of our year-end responsibilities from the HR side as small businesses. These can range from planning for a new insurance plan as of Jan 1, 2021 to reviewing our emergency procedures due to winter weather or COVID to year-end payroll tasks. It is important to note that this list includes many important reminders, but it is not all inclusive.
10 Year-End Reminders:
W-2 Address Updates: Remind your employees to update their address in your database for timely delivery of their W-2 form. (Don’t forget that W-2 forms need to be postmarked no later than January 31, 2021!) Your payroll company typically handles all things related to the W-2 issuance, so check in with them if you are feeling unsure about the process.
New benefits plan year: If you are changing insurance plans as of the new year, be sure your employees have access to all the new plan information in case they need to use their benefits in the first part of January. Changing insurance plans can be very unsettling for an employee, so the more communication around this, the better. Even if you have not communicated much to-date, it’s not too late, do it this week! It’s ok if your employees don’t have their actual insurance cards before the new year – they can likely print a temporary one online or give their SSN to their doctor’s office. If your insurance plan is staying the same next year, it is important to remember that the deductible may renew as of Jan 1. Some plans have plan years (aka “deductible year”) which run July – June (or Nov – Oct, for example) and some run Jan – Dec. This would be a good time to check your plan and remind your employees if their deductible will run out soon.
Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs) and 401(k) or Other Retirement Plans: Think about your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) – if you have them - and ensure employees are aware of the exact date when they must use any available funds. For 401(k) or other company retirement plans, make sure you know of any required notices of plan changes taking effect Jan 1. Your insurance brokerage and 401k provider will be able to advise you on all these requirements for your specific plans. Tap into those resources, don’t go it alone!
Special Payroll Cycles: When it comes to payroll, you may want to run what is referred to as a “bonus payroll” before the year ends. Many companies are choosing to give cash bonuses in lieu of a company party. You will want to touch base with your payroll provider soon to be sure they are aware of this request, and run this payroll as you specify.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reporting: If applicable to your business, be sure to file ACA reporting paperwork. (Employers with 50 or more full-time employees within the previous year and all self-insured employers regardless of size must report healthcare coverage information to employees and the IRS.) Your payroll company likely offers this ACA reporting as a service, either included in your existing fee, or as for an add-on fee. Trust me when I say that it is well worth your time to outsource ACA reporting requirements!
Certifications: Does your company require certain certifications? The end of the year is a great time to gather that information and ensure that anyone who us due for renewal is aware. Even if certifications do not run on a calendar year basis, it can make a lot of sense to have this as an end of year checklist item so it is not missed once you are off and running into the new year.
Handbook Updates: Similarly to the above, it makes sense to have an ongoing checklist item each year to update your handbook for the coming year. I recommend reviewing your handbook to see if you want to update or change existing company policies. You’ll also want to be sure to update your handbook with applicable law changes. January is also a great time to start fresh with a new policy or revise an existing one. Policies which start in the new year reinforce a “fresh start” to your team and can be received quite well.
Vacation: In preparation for the new year, ask that your department heads notify staff that dibs on 2021 vacation requests start after the first of the year. If vacation requests are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, let them know that too. Early birds, aka the “planners” of your company, will get the worm, so to speak!
Shred It! Applications and resumes for candidates not chosen only need to be kept for 1 year from the date they apply. I-9s for current employees need to be kept as long as they are employed (which should go without saying), but I-9s for those who have left your organization do not (and should not be) kept indefinitely. You must retain a Form I-9 for each person you hire for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.
The Human-Side: This one is last, but that does not mean it is not important! Here at Expedition HR, we often remind our clients not to forget the human side of business. For this reason, we always recommend using the end of the year as a time for reflection of how the past year went and what things you could do better in the new year to take better care of your employees. Look at metrics like employee turnover or time to hire, as well as processes such as performance management and compensation. Take a minute to determine 1-3 goals to focus on in the new year related to the human-side of business. Stay tuned for my soon-to-be released book called Conquer Sticky Situations! This book is a great way to learn empowering skills to address employee issues in a more human-centered and holistic way, through 5 simple steps.
I’d love to connect with you for a free consult in the new year. Consult spots are filling up fast – book your consult today!
Happy holidays to you and yours – and cheers to a wonderful start to 2021!
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