Reminders: An HR Autumn To-Do List

By Aldor H. Delp Oct 13, 2015

Aldor Delp is division vice president and general manager of Resource and HR Services at ADP.

As the leaves turn color throughout much of North America, HR professionals are turning their focus to year-end responsibilities ranging from preparing for open enrollment to reviewing emergency closing policies due to winter weather. Here’s a quick checklist for employers this fall:

1. Gear up for open enrollment. For most employers, the fall benefits enrollment period means helping employees review and select their health plans and other employer-provided benefits. By helping workers make educated plan choices, employers can reinforce the value of the benefits package employees are receiving. (See the SHRM Online article Reimagining Open Enrollment: A Six-Step Plan.)

2. Get all documents ready for Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting. With open enrollment and health benefit offerings, HR professionals need to keep ACA reporting requirements top of mind. Starting in January 2016, employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees must report health insurance information to the IRS and furnish a statement about health insurance to their employees annually. Small employers (fewer than 50 FTEs) with a self-insured health plan must complete and file Forms 1095-B and 1094-B with the IRS, as well as provide employees with a copy of Form 1095-B. And large employers with at least 50 FTEs must complete and file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, and provide full-time employees with a copy of the latter.

For the 2015 plan year, the forms must be filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 29, 2016 (or March 31, 2016, if filed electronically), but a copy of Form 1095-C must be provided to employees annually by Jan. 31.

For those employers that are subject to the ACA’s reporting requirements, HR professionals and business owners should be gathering all the necessary data to meet applicable deadlines. (See the SHRM Online article ACA Reporting Requirements: Tips for What’s Ahead in 2016; additional reporting resources are available at the SHRM Health Care Reform Resource Page.)

3. Provide any necessary leaves for voting and school-related activities. In some cases, employees may opt to take time off to vote in fall elections. At least 30 states have adopted laws to govern voting leave, and many of those states require this leave to be paid—although in some cases, employers may limit voting leave to the beginning or end of an employee’s shift. Additionally, some states, including California and New York, require employers to post a notice prior to Election Day explaining employees’ voting leave rights.

In addition to voting leave, many employees with school-age children may also need time off to attend parent-teacher conferences and for other school activities. Many states have laws granting employees time off for family matters and providing eligible employees with a certain number of hours of leave annually, per month or per school year. Employers should be aware of their state laws and comply accordingly.

4. Send vacation reminders. For employers with a vacation or paid time off (PTO) policy that requires employees to forfeit unused time at the end of the year, early fall is a good time to encourage people to use their accrued time off.

It’s important to note that some states prohibit any policies wherein workers must forfeit accrued but unused vacation time, so employers should know their state’s laws. In those states, employers must allow staff to carry over their accrued time from year to year, or else pay employees for their unused time at the end of the year.

5. Review emergency closing policies. Winter sometimes arrives suddenly. Before inclement weather starts, HR professionals should review emergency closing policies, including who is responsible for making the decision to close, how employees will be notified and how pay issues will be handled. Pay practices for inclement weather must also comply with federal, state and local rules. For example:

*Nonexempt employees are not required to be paid if they miss a full day of work due to company closure or weather. If they report to work and the company closes during their shift, they must be paid for the time they worked, plus the time they’re required to stay until a closing decision has been made.

*Exempt employees must receive their full salary amount if the company closes, as long as the employee works any part of that same workweek. If the company remains open but exempt employees aren’t able to make it to work, employers can make salary deductions for absences of one or more full days, but not for partial days. (See the SHRM Online article Answers About Paying Employees When Disaster Strikes.)

6. Assess the impact of proposed overtime law changes. On July 6, 2015, the Department of Labor published rules that could more than double the salary requirements to qualify for executive, administrative and professional overtime exemptions. Final rules are expected in 2016 but in the meantime, employers can prepare by budgeting for increased overtime costs and/or salary increases. (See the SHRM Online article Overtime Rule Change Bad for Business?)

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