The arrival of spring tends to inspire us to sweep away the cobwebs, clean out our closets, and make our homes fresh and orderly again. It’s also a good time to do a spring-cleaning of our business records.
Presumably you just wrapped up your tax filings for the year, a process that usually (if painfully) helps you get your financial records in order. Before you lock up your filing cabinets again, take some time to review your corporate records and compliance activities to make sure everything is in order. What follows is a list of some of the items and issues you should watch for. Your attorney can also help you with this process.
• Corporate filings. In most states, the Secretary of State’s annual reports are due around this time of year. City and county business licenses also come up for renewal annually. Have you made all the required filings and paid all the applicable fees?
• Corporate governance policies. These documents, which can be as varied as a record retention policy or a whistleblower protection policy, are essential parts of your internal governance. Is your business operating in compliance with the policies, or is it time to update the policies to better reflect the way your business operates?
• Employee Handbook. Your employee handbook is a living document that needs regular review, both internally by you and, because employment law changes frequently, by an employment attorney.
• Other employee matters. Are all your employee records up to date? Do you have all the required employment notices displayed at your place of business? If you plan to expand your workforce in the coming year, have you discussed your potential Affordable Care Act obligations with an attorney?
• HIPAA compliance. If your business is subject to HIPAA, have you conducted your annual risk assessment and provided HIPAA training for your employees? Your HIPAA policies should also be reviewed periodically by an attorney to ensure they are still consistent with the law.
• Insurance policies. Often our insurance policies renew automatically, without a second thought from us. But it’s important to revisit your coverage every year to ensure it still meets your needs. Calendar a meeting with your insurance broker to make a thorough review of your policies before the next renewal date.
• Intellectual property. Have you started using any new logos or taglines that need trademark protection? Are you including the appropriate copyright notices on all of your work product? Talk with your intellectual property attorney about any upcoming renewal dates.
• Contracts. If you don’t already have a spreadsheet or other document that lists the expiration dates of your contracts, start one now! Many contracts renew automatically unless you give advance notice, while others require you to take an affirmative step to keep them in place year-to-year. Knowing the status of your contracts is important to the on-going operation of your business.
Whether you make it a regular part of your spring routine or handle it at the end of your fiscal year, an annual review of your business records will put your business on a solid footing for the year ahead.