February 5, 2021

Maintaining compliance: Five tips to stay in shape to avoid a year-end crunch

By the time year-end rolls around, there may be far more pressing (or interesting) topics than payroll compliance. So, to ease a bit of the drudgery once that time comes around, here are five tips to help you proactively maintain HR and payroll compliance year-round.

At the beginning of a new year, year-end processes — at least, for the blossoming new year ahead — may be the last thing on your mind. Yet, especially if you are still reeling from the chaos and workload of the previous year, it can be a great time to regroup and set a proactive course for maintaining compliance as the year unfolds.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a few quick tips.

Tip one: Take time to review last year’s processes for “learning moments”

When hindsight is 20/20, it is sometimes the best place to start for planning ahead for the new year. So, take a quick look back at the most recent year-end.

How did your year-end processes go last year? What could be improved? What do you want to repeat that worked well? Set specific goals, align those goals with achievable deadlines, and, where appropriate, delegate assignments to help you manage year-end year-round.

Tip two: Perform a compliance “check-up”

Like any routine “check-up,” a compliance “check-up” probably isn’t the most exciting activity on your to-do list, but the rewards of such preventive maintenance abound. If you take time early in the year to comprehensively review your payroll and HR policies and align them with current legal and business requirements, you will avoid surprises, and will likely have more time to focus on the numbers at year-end.

Often, the best place to start this check-up is with an annual (at least) review of your organization’s current employee handbooks and policies, as well as any associated notices and acknowledgements.

Register for the webinar to learn more: Maintaining compliance, managing risk, and embracing your changing workforce

In addition to reviewing legal changes, don’t forget to consider changes to your workforce that may have happened since the previous year, such as entering new geographic areas (particularly as more roles become remote); mergers, acquisitions, or spinoffs; increases or reductions to employee headcount; and business-driven changes to benefits, compensation, and perks.

Tip three: Follow hot legislative trends and prepare for how they could impact your workforce

Will Canadian or U.S. tax laws change again? Will new paid sick leave or family leave entitlements be enacted? What will any new minimum wage or benefits requirements look like?

If the year 2020 showed us anything, it’s that we can never predict exactly which new laws or requirements will become effective. It can also be frustrating when new laws are changing, because agencies don’t always release required information far enough in advance for employers to prepare. 

Despite this, one of the best ways to get ready for changing legal landscapes is to track the trends that arise, then plan for the worst-case scenario (as best you can). Think about what steps you would need to take if a new requirement passed and became effective in the immediate year ahead. Proactively track the status of pending new legal requirements. You could even consider getting more involved by joining an industry association or providing comments to various agencies that have pending changes that may impact your workforce.

Whatever steps you decide to take in response to changing legal requirements, you will be ahead of the pack if you plan ahead.

Tip four: Use technology to your advantage

There’s no doubt that year-end is a stressful time. You could reduce this stress by taking advantage of the technology solutions that will help reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and help reduce the burden of various compliance requirements. 

HCM solutions that offer functionality such as continuous real-time calculations, custom reporting, and combining HR, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management in a unified platform with a single database will help you understand the status of your workforce on a regular basis. You can use technology to check in all year long, rather than waiting until the last month of the year on a crunched timeline.

Learn more about using technology to help manage payroll compliance

Tip five: Phone a friend

Sometimes the best way to improve your own work processes is simply to ask others what they’re doing that works for them. Maybe you’ll learn about a new data analysis trick that reduces the time it takes you to track data. Maybe a colleague uses an effective tool you’ve never heard about. There could be a great website for tracking legal trends that you were unaware of.

It can be hard to make time to get step away from your daily work demands, but the information you learn through networking could be the HR golden nugget you’ve been searching for.

Perhaps one – or all five – of these tips will help you proactively spread compliance obligations throughout the year so you can better manage year-end.

Related: Five ways to save time on payroll

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should review with your legal advisors how the laws identified in this post may apply to your specific situation.

Holly Jones

Holly Jones is Product Counsel at Ceridian, where her many years of employer-facing legal compliance and strategic HR expertise come in handy. As a member of Ceridian’s compliance team, Holly enjoys applying her passion for legal research and writing to support Ceridian’s agile development teams, integrating employment compliance requirements into the company’s growing suite of cutting-edge HCM technology solutions.

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