First, brush up on new laws coming into effect in the coming year. Many U.S. states—about one-third of them—will be experiencing an increase in minimum wage effective January 1, 2019. In addition, many jurisdictions have passed significant updates to employment-related laws that will be effective on New Year’s Day. A new law in Delaware, for example, expands workplace sexual harassment protections and provides anti-sexual harassment training requirements for employers with 50 or more employees within the state. Check for updates in your state to make sure that you are aware of any new requirements that apply to your workplace.
Next, make a point to review your company’s employee files and paperwork. Be sure that any wage adjustments are accounted for and benefits information is up to date; you may also want to check with benefits providers on what information may need to be reported at the end of the year. The end of the year is also be a good time to take a look at employee personnel files. Check that all necessary documents are part of the employee’s file and that what is in the file is appropriate. For example, an employee’s medical records may not be included in a general personnel file pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act’s privacy requirements. Not only will revisiting employee files help avoid any potential issues regarding the release of confidential information, but having an organized personnel file will save you some hassle if you later face a workers’ compensation or discrimination claim and need to quickly produce or examine the file.
Lastly, start planning the year ahead—early. If your state requires any workplace training, schedule it well in advance to ensure that it gets done within a required timeframe. In addition, take a look back into 2018 to identify areas where you might want to provide your employees with additional training and get it on the calendar before everyone starts scheduling vacation time. You may decide to retrain supervisors on various incident reporting requirements and protocols for handling requests such as accommodation under the ADA and leave under FMLA, or, if you had a high number of employee injuries over the course of the year, a job re-training might be helpful to mitigate future incidents. In addition, if you plan to revise any company policies or procedures, get started by crafting those deadlines in the early months of the year.