Now that the holiday rush is over and the new year is here, it’s a great time to plan ahead and get a jump on payroll, HR and benefits tasks that will keep you busy over the next few months. Use our HR checklist to hit the ground running and stay on top of all the tax changes you need to comply with this year.


  • Get your W-4s in order. Ask employees to review their current W-4 information so they can make any updates before the first paychecks go out. Don’t forget to use the new version of the form for new hires in 2020 for employees who want to adjust their withholdings.
  • Complete and distribute W-2s. Collect updated addresses and Social Security numbers for W-2s. Verify info for active and terminated employees as well as contractors and check to make sure they have received the forms before the Jan. 31 deadline. 
  • Reconfigure payroll taxes based on the 2020 Social Security tax limit. Starting Jan. 1, maximum earnings subject to the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax increase to $137,700—up $4,800 from last year. Adjust your payroll system to reflect this new tax limit and let affected employees know that more of their paycheck will be subject to withholding.
  • Check first paystub for accuracy. Double-check wage, tax and withholding information on paychecks as well as details or employee contribution amounts.


  • Revise your employee handbook. Give your policy and procedure manuals a thorough review. Is everything current? Do your policies comply with new or changing federal, state and local regulations? Flag any antiquated practices or outdated language and get started making the necessary revisions and removals. Once you’ve updated the handbook, recirculate it among employees to encourage an annual refresher on workplace policies. 
  • Update templates. Make sure all of your internal paperwork is up to date, including job descriptions, employment applications, candidate evaluation forms, performance review forms and termination forms. 
  • Initiate goal-setting meetings. Schedule departmental and company-wide meetings to share performance highlights from the past year and discuss goals for 2020. Establish benchmarks and timetables for achieving these objectives and create incentives to motivate employees to meet them.
  • Establish your budget and employee training plan. Make sure your budget provides enough resources for any recruitment, hiring or onboarding you plan to do or any technology upgrades you plan to make. Don’t forget to include any safety or workplace training you need to provide to new or current employees.
  • Update auto insurance information: For employees who drive on the job, the first of the year is a great time to update their auto insurance information. This helps keep you in compliance with workers’ compensation and other business coverage. 
  • Set up new apps. Make it easy for employees to access the HR information they need 24/7 with mobile applications that allow them to clock in and out, request time off, check pay stubs and review benefits information. Not only does this cut down on paperwork, but it also helps employees feel better informed and more engaged.


  • Notify employees about new 401(k) limits. Employees can stash more cash into their retirement accounts this year. Contribution limits for 401(k) plans are increasing in 2020 to $19,500—a $500 increase—while the combined employer and employee contribution limit is rising to $57,000—a $1,000 increase. For those 50 and older, catch-up contributions are also going up $500 to $6,500.
  • Provide updates on Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) limits. Employees can add a little more to their HSAs this year, with the individual limit going up $50 to $3,500 and the family plan max jumping up $100 to $7,100. For FSAs, which can be used in tandem with HSAs for dental and vision care services, the limit for contributions is increasing by $50 to $2,750. Remind employees to use or lose savings in their current FSAs within 90 days of the end of the plan year (or by the end of the grace period, if you provide that option). 
  • Help staff plan for upcoming medical expenses. This year, out-of-pocket maximums for group plans can increase to $8,200 for individual coverage and $16,400 for family coverage. So, it’s more important than ever to encourage employees to plan ahead for any major surgeries or expensive medical procedures and to use in-network services as much as possible. 
  • Determine Applicable Large Employer status. Review employment status from the previous year to determine whether you qualify as an Applicable Large Employer. If you are, start preparing Forms 1094 and 1095s. 
  • Determine COBRA status: Review the previous year to determine if you are now required to offer COBRA. 
  • Reconcile benefits bills: This is especially important if your benefits plan year began on Jan. 1. Plan for extra time at the beginning of the year to reconcile medical, dental, vision and ancillary bills to verify that employee participation and contributions match and that employer and employee contributions are accurate.

Feeling overwhelmed after reading this HR checklist? Whether through our outsourced services or as your professional employer organization, XMI can help you get a handle on your HR in 2020. Learn how by calling 615-248-9255 or email


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