WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Your employee just came to you to announce she has changed her name. Maybe she got married, maybe she got divorced, or maybe she just didn’t like the name she had. Regardless, her name has changed and now you have an obligation to update company records.  Here is a list to help make sure you’ve caught everything:

1. I-9 form – When an employee’s name changes, it’s important to document that on the I-9 form by completing Section 3 of that document.

2. W-4 – If the name change is the result of a marriage or divorce, the employee should be encouraged to complete a new W-4 for payroll purposes.

3. Social Security Card – For payroll purposes, the company will want to make sure the employee’s name matches the name on her social security card. It is recommended that an employer not change the name in the payroll system until the employee can produce a social security card reflecting the new name.  Skipping this step can create problems for both the company and the employee down the road.  It is likely the employer will receive a notice that the name and social security number don’t match.  If this isn’t corrected, the employer could be fined.  Additionally, the employee’s social security account is not properly credited and that could affect the amount of social security she can collect when she retires or if she becomes disabled.  The Social Security website has more information about how an individual can change his or her name on their Social Security Card.

4. Benefits – From health insurance to 401(k) plans, all benefits in which the employee is enrolled need to be updated to reflect the employee’s name change.  In the case of a marriage or divorce, the employee should consider updating the beneficiary for the life insurance benefit.

The 401(k) beneficiary also needs to be updated.  However, there are special rules that apply.  In the case of marriage, the spouse must be named as the beneficiary unless he or she specifically waives the right to being named beneficiary.  The same goes for a divorce.  Depending on the nature of the divorce decree, the spouse may be entitled to 50% of the funds available in the employee’s 401(k) account.

5. Email address -  It’s important for the email address to reflect your employee’s new name…especially if your email protocol includes her last name.  It is also recommended that you ask your Information Technology Manager to set it up so that the old email address stays active for a period of time until all of your other employees and your clients have her new address.

6. Social Media – If your employee is connected on LinkedIn or any other business-related social media account, she should be reminded to update her account to reflect her new name.

7. Website – If your employee is mentioned on your website and/or if her email address is included on your site, it is important that it be updated to reflect her new name.

8. Voicemail Message and Company Directory – Since your employee probably doesn’t listen to her own voicemail message, it’s a good idea to remind her to update her outgoing message. The person who maintains your company directory should also be notified of the name change so it can be updated.

9. Professional Memberships, Certifications & Licenses – If your employee maintains professional memberships, certifications and/or is a licensed professional, remind her to update her records with those membership, certifying or licensing entities. This is especially true if a license is required for the individual to perform her job duties.

10. Business cards, ID badges and name plates - These items are easily overlooked.  However, if your employee regularly meets with customers, it’s important that her business cards reflect her new name.

Changing names doesn’t have to be a difficult task.  However, having a checklist handy helps ensure you don’t miss anything.

Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here to learn more about EAF membership benefits http://eafinc.org/about-eaf/value-of-membership/.