I am a new HR manager and I am setting goals for 2013. Do you have any suggestions about where to start?


The beginning of a new year is a great time to look at your HR practices and set realistic goals for improving your practices. Here are some of the areas you may want to focus on:

1. Health Care Reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “pay or play” rules are effective January 1, 2014. Employers with 50 or more “full-time” and “full-time equivalent” employees are classified as “large employers” who will be subject to non-deductible tax penalties unless they meet certain requirements. It is important to understand that 2013 payroll data will be used to calculate whether an employer has 50 or more “full time” or “full time equivalent” employees under this law. Generally, under the ACA a full-time employee is any employee who is reasonably expected to work an average of at least 30 hours a week. However, there are special rules for seasonal employees and predecessor and affiliated companies. If your company is near the 50 full time employee threshold, you will want to consult your tax and benefit expert for guidance, and keep meticulous records of the number of employees the company employs, and the number of hours they work each pay period.  For more information visit

2. Employee Handbooks. New laws passed in 2012 will require updates of most employee handbooks. Policies concerning pregnancy disability leave, nondiscrimination, social media, and employee access to personnel records will need to be revised to comply with new laws. It is also prudent to review your employee handbook yearly to make sure it accurately states your company’s practices.

3. Employee Classifications. Many employers conduct periodic reviews of workers to make sure they are properly classified as independent contractors, exempt employees, or non-exempt employees. These classifications are important to ensure compliance with tax laws and wage and hour regulations. Because workers’ duties can change over time, it is wise to reevaluate classifications periodically.

4. Personnel Files. It is important to review or audit personnel files to make sure your company is properly maintaining essential documentation for employees. Documents that should be in the personnel file include the job description, the employee’s application or resume, any offer letter or written terms of employment, the signed acknowledgement of receipt of the employee handbook, benefits information, and the employee’s W-4 forms. Documents related to the employee’s performance should also be in the personnel file, including performance evaluations, awards or compliments for performance, all disciplinary documentation, and any contract or written agreement with the employee. Certain documents should not be placed in the personnel file including I-9’s and medical records or medical leave documentation.

5. Time and Wage Records. California wage and hour laws require employers to keep records of hours worked and wages earned by employees. It is prudent to review the wage order applicable to your company and make sure your record keeping practices comply with the law. To access the wage orders, go to

6. Communication and Collaboration. It is also important to review your company’s practices and philosophy regarding communicating with employees, and building a collaborative work environment.

Following the above practices is a wise way to start out the new year.

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