People Strategy

Ending your HR year right

Empowered Hospitality‘s end-of-year HR compliance checklist

December is a daunting month, and even the best of us let reporting and paperwork pile up in the midst of the holiday scramble. Alleviate your stress by having a simple, structured road map so you can unplug when family time matters most!

1) Know your order of operations. It can feel like you have to do everything at once as the end of the year approaches. Tackle your list proactively and methodically, and don’t let non-essential tasks bog you down.

September: Begin by updating your employee handbook. Discuss and draft any new policies, legal notices, or other documents you’d like employees to receive at the start of the year. This is the perfect time to tweak that PTO policy, roll out your company’s new NDA, and collect new pay rate notices from employees receiving increases. In addition to any new resources you plan to introduce, we recommend reviewing and updating your employee handbook, job descriptions, and I-9’s and pay rate notices annually.

October: Make your benefits plan selections early if you have a January 1st renewal. Your broker may not be thinking about getting started in October (i.e. don’t wait for them to reach out to you), but you will save yourself many sleepless nights by starting open enrollment in November.

November: Fend off a W2 stampede — have employees verify their current mailing address before year-end. Establish a protocol for employees to request a duplicate W2 and communicate it proactively.

December: Look at you… December is here, and no scrambling left to do! December is a short month – use this time to ensure every “i” is dotted and “t” crossed, and to spread the holiday spirit among your teammates. Your joy and calm will carry everyone through this busy season.

January: If your company is subject to the Affordable Care Act, review your 1094 and 1095’s prior to the January 31st deadline. Beware – if you’ve changed payroll platforms within the prior year this could be very messy.

2) Make technology work for you: Technology can automate many of the processes that bog us down at year-end. Adopt the following no-brainers to better manage your HR processes (and #savethetrees)!

  • Onboard employees electronically to avoid compliance snafus and make the auditing process quick and easy. Choose a platform that rejects I-9 documents that have missing or incorrect information, and that can properly complete the Notice of Pay Rate.
  • Consistently enter ACA and EEO information when onboarding new employees. This will make pulling your 1094-C, 1095-C and EEO-1 reports painless.
  • Use employee self-service for simple updates such as address changes.
  • Select a benefits broker who provides an online portal for enrollments or establish a “carrier connection” from your payroll system to your benefits carrier.
  • Pro Tip: For record-keeping and tax purposes, we recommend limiting payroll company break-ups to the first of every year. HRIS solutions generally take over 8 weeks to implement, which means you’ll have to select your new system sometime in September/October to allow adequate time to transition.

3) If you are reading this, it’s not too late! In fact, January 2020 is the perfect time to implement the best practices that you’ve realized you’re missing. Start off the new year by mapping out next September’s task list… it’s never to early to avoid next holiday season’s headaches!

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.” – Sun Tzu

Looking for help navigating your end of year HR tangle? Email us at

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