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Should employees complete new-hire paperwork after a merger or acquisition?

If the merger or acquisition is the result of a stock purchase and employees are absorbed by the new entity, any current employment forms may remain intact unless substantive changes need to be addressed (e.g., policy changes, benefits changes, nondisclosure agreements, change in job duties or pay). However, in an asset sale, the seller's employees are typically terminated and then rehired by the buyer. In this scenario, employers may want to treat employees like new hires with regard to paperwork administration. 

From a change management perspective, anything that HR can do to ease the integration into the new entity will result in increased employee engagement at a faster rate.  Therefore signing new paperwork can be used as an opportunity to provide a warm welcome, outline important policies or procedures the new employee will need to know and verify personal information on the employee.   

Some forms employers may want to have employees update include:

Employment applications. Employment applications provide a great opportunity to gather information that may have changed since the employee's original employment began.  

Offer letters. Some states require wage payment change notices, so if compensation terms have changed, ensure you follow these notice requirements. Employers should strongly consider providing new job offer letters if the terms of employment are altered.  

I-9s. Employers have the option of completing new I-9s for acquired or merging employees or to use the I-9s on file. The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) cautions: "Employers who choose to keep the previously completed Forms I-9 accept responsibility for any errors or omissions on those forms. Review each Form I-9 with the employee and update or reverify the employee's information, as necessary." If you choose to have employees complete new I-9s the date of the acquisition should be recorded as the employee's hire date in Section 2 of the form.

Tax forms. According to the Internal Revenue Service's Bulletin-August 23, 2004-Rev. Proc. 2004-53, transferred employees must provide the successor with new W-4s. State tax forms should also be completed as needed. In addition, it is a best practice to request all employees to review their tax withholding on a regular basis and update pertinent information as needed.  

Benefits enrollment forms. When employees involved in an acquisition or merger transition immediately to new benefits plans, new enrollment forms will be necessary. Work with your benefit providers to identify what information will need to be completed.  In stock purchases the previous plans might remain in place; usually in these instances no new forms are necessary. 

Employee handbook acknowledgement forms. In most cases, employers will want to ensure they have a newly signed handbook acknowledgement. Having a signed acknowledgement will help avoid misunderstandings that may arise due to changes in policies and procedures after the merger or acquisition. 

Job descriptions. Employers typically provide new job descriptions when the employee's job duties have substantially changed. 

In addition, employers may have other internal forms that they want to update at the onset of the new employment relationship, for example, confidentiality agreements. Having the right forms in place will set the stage for expectations, open up communications and provide for a smoother transition.


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