Year-end isn't much of a holiday if you're in HR. Even for seasoned professionals, the end of the year is a tumultuous time, with deadlines approaching, new compliance rules to account for, and a ton of extra one-time tasks on top of your usual routine. Need help keeping all those plates spinning? Use our HR compliance checklist as a reference as you ready up for the following year.
Year-End HR Checklist
At year-end, ACA reporting and open enrollment are probably taking up a lot of your attention, but those aren’t the only things to focus on. Educating your employees about what's available to them can potentially improve your organization's ROI on the benefits you offer, and educating yourself about current trends in benefits offerings can help you to build a more competitive benefits package later.
If applicable, don’t forget to get a head start on your organization’s required Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting. The deadline for filing electronically is April 1st; February 28th for paper filing. Employees should receive a 1095-C by March 4, 2024.
Review your current benefits offerings and compare them to what other organizations in your industry are offering. It may be time to add new benefits or shift priorities, and with most plans renewing in December and January, you may find better pricing available.
Continually communicate with employees about open enrollment, and prepare for enrollment finalization for the year.
Prepare and distribute a calendar of paid vacation days for the coming year. Keep copies somewhere that employees can easily access, as well – a shared drive or break room, for example.
Remind employees of additional vacation time, like floating holidays, that they might have in the coming year.
Ensure employees receive new health insurance cards, and inform them of any changes to their benefits plans that might take effect on January 1st.
An HR payroll checklist can help reduce your need to rush through that last payroll of the year (or the first payroll of the next) – cutting down on costly mistakes.
Review employee salaries at all levels. The average pay increase in the US is projected to hit 3.8% in 2024. You may need to make cost-of-living adjustments or adjust wages to bring them more in line with the market averages for salary.
Verify that all Social Security and federal employer identification numbers (FEIN) are filled in properly to avoid IRS penalties.
Check in with your payroll provider and ensure they have everything they need to generate W-2s and 1099s, and order them if you haven’t done so already. Those will need to be provided to your employees and the Social Security Administration by January 31st.
Prepare and process any end-of-year bonuses before the deadline for 2023 adjustments.
If necessary, based on company policy, ensure any remaining paid time off is properly set to either pay out or carry over in your payroll system.
Compliance is likely one of the first things on your mind at year-end, but there’s too much to keep track of without a little help. Check our HR compliance checklist below to stay on top of deadlines and avoid fees or penalties.
Make sure you’re using up-to-date versions of all required forms and documentation. Find the most current copies of all forms by searching on the IRS website.
Review the Department of Labor (DOL) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for any updates to compliance requirements at the federal level.
Remind employees to check all of their information and ensure it is correct in your HR database and payroll system.
Don’t forget to look into changes at the state and local levels. While changes to federal law generally get enough press that you’ll know they’re coming well ahead of time, you’ll have to make a point of researching any upcoming changes to compliance requirements in the cities and states where your employees work.
Where staffing is concerned, you’re not just looking forward. Take a look back at the year’s onboarding and offboarding processes, and use that information to better your tactics in the year to come.
Check in with departments to get an estimate of what staffing needs will be in the new year.
Review and update job descriptions as necessary. Job descriptions that establish a clear scope with strong boundaries will cut back on responsibility creep and, by extension, the potential for employee burnout.
Audit your onboarding and offboarding processes and documentation, both to verify that it was completed properly and to make note of any strengths or weaknesses in the process.
Review exit interviews. It may help you to pick out trends from the previous year that you can address in the next.
Cycle terminated personnel files to storage.
Whether the changes made to company policy are big or small, it’s vitally important that they’re communicated to all employees.
Review company policy and make necessary updates. Be sure to communicate any policy changes to employees.
Review and update your employee handbook. If you have remote employees, be sure to account for any changes to local laws where they work.
Looking to better embrace DEIB in the new year? Update documentation and educational materials with more inclusive language.
You’re at the tail end of our HR checklist! Your final tasks will give you a head start on any initiatives you’d like to pursue next year.
Review your budget. It will set you on the path to better allocate your resources later.
Outline your goals for the coming year. Is your organization planning on expanding, or will your focus be on retention? Do you want to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion into your company’s culture? Now’s the time to start planning for the changes you’ll need to make over the next 12 months.
Once things have settled down, consider sending out a survey to employees to get some feedback on how the year-end went for them. Did they have an easy time updating their information in the organization’s systems? Did they receive their W-2s in a timely manner? How did open enrollment go? Did they have enough time to do it? Use this feedback to improve tactics next year.