New plan and onboarding FAQ

Answers to all your questions about getting started with your new Guideline 401(k) plan.

Updated over a week ago

We’re excited that you’ve chosen Guideline for your company’s 401(k) plan. This guide shares answers to commonly asked questions about new plans and what to expect during onboarding.

Can I change the start date of my plan?

If your plan has not yet begun, you may be able to change the start date. However, there are several factors that dictate when your plan can begin.

If your plan is supposed to start in less than 30 days, you cannot move the start date sooner. The IRS requires that employers must give their employees an automatic enrollment and safe harbor (if applicable) notice at least 30 days before the plan starts.

Our system will generate the earliest available start date based on the payroll schedule you indicated during plan setup to meet the 30-day notice period required. If your start date is more than 30 days out as selected in plan set up, you may be able to move it sooner.

If you’d like to delay your start date, you can do so in most cases. Find additional details about changing your plan's start date here.

How do I know that I’ve completed everything you need to run my first payroll?

Please reference your Guideline administrator dashboard to see if there are open tasks you need to complete. If there are no tasks to be completed, there is nothing we need from you at this time.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to wait at least 1 business day after your plan start date to run payroll. This will ensure the Guideline system has enough time to sync your employees’ first contributions to your payroll system.

How do my employees enroll?

Eligible employees will be sent an email invitation with the subject “[ACTION REQUIRED] Set up your {company name} 401(k)" from with a link to enroll and set up their accounts. This email will be sent at least 30 days before your Guideline plan start date, or when they become eligible to participate in the plan if the employee joins your company or becomes eligible after your plan start date.

Your Guideline administrator dashboard will show the date employees will be sent their enrollment email. Upon clicking the enrollment link in the email, employees will be guided through a simple onboarding process, enabling them to set up everything from portfolio choice to contribution rates and more. Alternatively, they can also choose to opt out of contributing.

If an employee doesn’t receive the email, please ask them to check their spam folder before reaching out to our support team. You can also resent employee invites within the Roster page on your Guideline administrator dashboard .

See our plan sponsor’s guide to employee enrollment for more details and answers to commonly asked questions.

Do you have educational resources for employees who have questions about their 401(k) plans?

Yes! Employees have access to a robust Help Center and Video Library with 401(k) resources and answers to common questions.

Additionally, we have a new participant webinar recording that provides an introduction to a Guideline 401(k).

Why are dismissed employees on my Guideline Roster?

Employees with the status “Inactive” or “Not on payroll” may sync to Guideline as potentially eligible employees. If these employees are actually dismissed, please update their profiles in payroll to reflect “Dismissed” or “Terminated” and include their termination dates.

If you’re using a 360˚ payroll provider, the sync will take place overnight. If you’re using a 180˚ payroll provider, the Guideline roster sync will take place within a 2-week period. You can also manually update or view employee statuses within the Roster tab of your Guideline dashboard.

Find more details on how to update the status of dismissed employees here.

Why are part-time or seasonal employees showing as eligible? Can I exclude them from participating?

Guideline does not allow part-time, seasonal, temporary, interns, or similar employees who are paid through W-2 to be excluded from participating as long as they meet the eligibility requirements you set for your plan.

Guideline plans offer 2 requirements as it pertains to eligibility: age of employee and months of service. You can request to change either or both of these requirements before your plan’s start date or mid-year in certain circumstances. Outside of those requirements, Guideline always excludes non-resident aliens with no US-based income and will only allow the exclusion of leased, union and Puerto Rican employees from the plan if those employees are also excluded from payroll.

How do I change or amend my plan?

If you have a dedicated Onboarding Specialist, you can reach out to them directly to review any desired plan changes. If you do not have a dedicated Onboarding Specialist, you can email or call the Onboarding team at (888) 588-0446 ext. 698.

What is compliance testing?

Compliance testing refers to IRS-required testing that must be completed after year-end to ensure the plan is offered to employees on a non-discriminatory basis. Plans who exceed contribution limits based on such testing may need to refund participant contributions and/or make additional employer contributions.

You can learn more about compliance testing here.

As an owner who is not a W-2 employee, can I contribute to my 401(k) plan. If so, how does it work?

As an owner who's not on payroll and is receiving self-employment income through an entity taxed as a partnership or sole proprietorship, you can elect to contribute to your 401(k) account either as a one-time election or on a quarterly basis as an owner’s draw.

Learn how to request a contribution to your 401(k) as an owner here.

Note that the 401(k) plan only counts owners’ W-2 compensation of entities taxed as corporations (including S-corps).

How do I get more help if my question isn’t listed here?

Sorry we couldn’t answer your question. You may visit our Employer resource center or try searching our Help Center where we have hundreds of articles. You may also find these resources helpful:

If you still need assistance, feel free to send an email to and we’ll be happy to help.

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