As we inch closer toward the end of the year, many employees may begin to wind down and taper their workload. However, for Human Resource professionals, it may feel like the workload is only just beginning. Between dealing with holiday celebrations, employee safety, COVID/flu season in the workplace, and prepping for the new year, HR professionals have their hands full during the holiday season.
The end-of-the-year workload may be typically high, but the changes and complexities brought on by 2020 – from handling the coronavirus pandemic to understanding the new workplace issues and policies enacted in the new year -- may leave HR professionals facing new challenges at the close of 2020.
We’ve put together an HR checklist to help you stay on track and be prepared as we enter 2021.
✅ Prepare for Affordable Care Act (ACA) Compliance:
- Calculate Number of Full and Fulltime Employee Equivalents. For each month in 2020, determine the number of full and fulltime employees you had working. If your average number across 12 months exceeds 50, you are required to comply with the ACA beginning in the new year.
- Review Status of Grandfathered Plans to See if They Carry Over.
- Distribute Health Insurance Marketplace Notices to New Employees. Provide your new hire employees with written documentation detailing the existence of the Marketplace, the services provided, contact information, along with additional information required under the FLSA. The U.S. Department of Labor has two model notices to help employers comply:
- Example Notice for Employers Who Offer a Health Plan
- Example Notice for Employers Who Do Not Offer a Health Plan
✅ Prepare Reporting Forms – Form 1094 and Form 1095. Take a look at the IRS’ instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C for 2020.
✅ Examine Your Benefit Plan Offerings. Compare your offerings to market averages and plan for updates to your company’s benefit plan to stay competitive.
✅ Verify Employee Dependent Coverage.
✅ Amend Employees’ Pre-Tax FSA Contributions to Meet Any Increases.
✅ Ensure Proper PTO Carryover to 2021 as Applicable.
✅ Plan and Issue Holiday Bonuses. If applicable.
✅ Confirm 2021 Payroll Schedule. See 3 areas here where payroll best practices are key.
✅ Prepare for the First Payroll Run of 2021.
✅ Order Tax Forms like W-2s and 1099s. For more information on ordering forms, click here.
✅ Issue and File W-2s. Remember to issue and file W-2s by the January 31, 2021 deadline.
✅ Review Employees’ Wage, Tax, and Withholding Information. Employees who claimed exempt for federal withholding in 2020 must complete a new W-4 by February 15th.
✅ Continue to Comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). If you are an applicable employer, continue to comply, and prepare for the FFCRA to sunset on December 31, 2020 (check on the status of the FFCRA for potential extension/amendment).
✅ Review Employee Classification Compliance. Employers are required to correctly classify their employees under IRS and FLSA rules and regulations.
✅ Adjust Employee Handbook. Make any updates to the employee handbook necessary for the upcoming year.
✅ Audit Personnel Files for Compliance. Ensure proper and safe recordkeeping.
✅ Verify Correct Labor Laws are Properly Posted. Be sure to have updated posters if necessary.
✅ Research New Laws. New provisions may be in place and taking effect at the state, city, or federal level. Familiarize yourself with the changes in these laws.
✅ Review OSHA Practices. Keep in mind that OSHA has information and requirements regarding the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. OSHA requires the annual summary of injuries and illnesses be posted by February 1st and kept in place till April 1st unless you have 10 or fewer employees or are a business in an exempt industry.
✅ Distribute Annual Notices to Employees. Ensure you are compliant with labor laws by providing employees with required notices or handouts.
✅ Ensure Required Training is Completed. Be sure to check and see if your state has regulations about training requirements such as annual anti-harassment training.
✅ Move Terminated Personnel Files to Storage. Be sure to follow record retention requirements for your location. As an example, federal requirements for I-9 retention are located here.
✅ Review Recruitment and Hiring Processes. Analyze the recruitment process, from determination of staffing need through to onboarding. Is the onboarding process too long? How are you handling pre-employment background checks? Is there adequate time allotted to the new hire’s training period?
✅ Evaluate the Employment Application. Is it legally compliant? Does it meet applicable ban the box and salary history ban requirements?
✅ Update Job Descriptions. Review the existing job descriptions and make adjustments to information or requirements where necessary.
✅ Assess Your Termination of Employment Procedures. Do you obtain a resignation notice for a voluntary termination of employment? Is there a formal review of the situation before an employee is fired? Do you follow your state’s requirements for last paychecks and any required notices?
✅ Analyze Documentation. Do you utilize a termination checklist? Do you have the corrective action form(s) needed for an involuntary termination?
✅ Look Over Past Year's Exit Interviews. Review and analyze for trends.
6. General HR
✅ Study the HR Budget for the Upcoming 2021 Year. Begin to allocate resources where necessary based on your budget review.
✅ Conduct Annual Performance Reviews. Take a look at our tips for conducting a seamless performance review during COVID-19.
✅ Finalize Holiday Plans. If you haven’t done so already, get a plan in place for your company’s end-of-year holiday celebrations. Here are our workplace celebration tips for this year. Planning for the holidays may also include setting departmental New Year’s resolutions.
✅ Review and Update Company Policies. Ensure to make these changes when updating the company handbook.
✅ Remind Employees to Update Information. This information may include addresses, contact information, tax documents, etc.
✅ Examine Vendor Contracts and Set up Renewal Dates.
✅ Back-Up HR Data and Personnel Files.
✅ Clean and Organize Personal Workplaces. The end of the year is a great time to declutter, organize, and clean workspaces. Tidy the workplace for a clean start to the new year.
✅ Give Access to the 2021 Vacation Calendar. Depending on your organization’s policies on PTO requests, employees may be ready to start submitting their vacation time for the upcoming year.
For Human Resource professionals, closing out the year is no easy feat. We hope our HR checklist helps you tie up your organization’s loose ends for the year and transition smoothly into 2021. Clients of FrankCrum can contact us for guidance. If you are interested in becoming a client of FrankCrum and learning about our HR services and how we can assist you, click here.