The Mailbag.

Author:Delogu, Nancy
Position:Letter to the editor

Who is allowed to complete the W-4 form?

Q. Is it legal for payroll to complete the W-4 for an employee as long as the employee signs the form?--Lisa, Texas

A. Form W-4 is for the employee, not the employer, to complete. Although it is likely that your payroll department could assist employees in completing the form, you need to complete the form only as the employee directed. You cannot complete a form for an employee who refuses.

I'm not sure what you are seeking to accomplish by having payroll complete the form, since each employee may decide, for example, how many exemptions to claim depending on personal financial circumstances. Beyond helping explain the form, resist the temptation to do more.

Online resource If you are concerned an employee will not complete the form, the IRS rules have a different approach you should take for such tax protesters. Learn more at

Owner put a keg in the office: What's HR to do?

Q. The owner of our company recently added kegs to our offices. How can I ensure we are protected against harassment and DUI? How do we create a policy about that? What if we hire a former alcoholic who is threatened by the presence of alcohol?--Anonymous, Idaho

A. You are correct that drafting a policy explaining the permitted use of alcohol would be wise.

First, determine when the alcohol use is permitted, and then place some parameters around the use. For example, you might limit consumption to a certain time of the workday. Of course, limit alcohol consumption to employees who are of legal age. Make sure employees know they should not perform any safety-sensitive work after consuming alcohol. Even if you are an office-based business, several tasks may be inappropriate to perform after drinking alcohol.

The policy should also encourage responsible alcohol consumption and advise workers to monitor their consumption so they do not become intoxicated or...

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