I admit that, like many Americans, I am fascinated with the lives of the British royal family. That is especially true with respect to Charles and Di’s two young princes. I enjoy hearing news about Prince Williams’ adorable family, and I was excited to hear about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s recent engagement. In fact, this coming spring will mark two momentous occasions for the royal family, as William and Catherine are expecting a baby in April, followed by the wedding of Harry and Meghan in May. I cannot wait to tune in!
Although royalty (and even famous actresses like Markle) do not need to worry much about how marriage and childbirth will affect their jobs, regular Joes certainly do. Accordingly, HR must be ready to assist employees when they undergo these major life changes.
When an employee gets married, he or she may undergo a legal name change. From an administrative standpoint, the employee should provide updated personnel documents:
- First, an employee should provide the employer with a copy of his new, updated Social Security card with the new full name. This is important because the IRS mandates that the card information match the company’s payroll information.
- The same is true for employee tax documents on file with the employer. The employee will need to update the W-4, so that the legal name is reflected on the corresponding W-2 correctly.
- Note that an employer is not automatically required to update the employee’s I-9 after a legal name change, but the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends doing so in order to have employment records be uniform for the employee.
- HR will also want to ensure that the employee’s benefits paperwork is updated (including any beneficiary forms).
- The company may want to require that the employee provide an updated version of his driver’s license, especially if the employee drives a vehicle as part of his job.
- Some couples set up a joint bank account after marrying. For such employees, HR will want to be sure (for payroll purposes) that any direct deposit information is correct and is adjusted if there is a new account.
- Finally, the employer should ensure that documents such as “who to contact in an emergency”, business cards, email accounts, desk or wall name plaques, and company phone lists are all updated with the new name.
In addition, HR may want to check in with the employee about any extended time off needed for the wedding and/or honeymoon. If the employee has PTO or vacation time available, it is advisable to determine how the time off will be allocated in advance. Also, having HR work with the employee and his manager on plans for an extended time away may help decrease the disruption on the business.
When an employee has a new child, through birth or adoption, there are a plethora of considerations affecting the employment of the new parent.
- As with marriage, benefit plans are a consideration. Adding the new child to the employee’s health plan, life insurance, flexible spending accounts, etc. as soon as possible is very important. The employee may also want to update beneficiary designations for life and other types of insurance to include the new child.
- HR should ensure that the employee understands all of her rights under federal, state, and local law with respect to leave time following the birth or adoption, as well as the employer’s policies and benefits regarding leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) often comes into play, as do maternity/paternity leave policies.
- Companies need to be sure that their nursing mother policies are up to date and that those policies are aligned with the law.
- Childcare is another consideration for the employee who is a new parent. Some employers have direct childcare benefits and offer onsite daycare, while other employers have arrangements with nearby daycare centers that offer affordable and quality childcare for the employee. HR should ensure that the employee who welcomes a new child has all the necessary information about any childcare benefits available from the company.
In sum, it is exciting when royals—and even commoners!—get married and have children. For commoners who work, HR can be a great asset and partner in the employment-related aspects that accompany these important life changes.