Tips for Employee File Maintenance

November 3, 2013

Purpose and Overview: It is vital to secure and retain new employee forms in compliance with state and federal regulations and employer’s personnel policies. Periodic review of personnel file contents should not be overseen.

Some “Best Practices” for employee file storage

Basic Personnel File — Store items that were a factor in the employee’s hiring and employment in the past, and items that will have an impact on his or her employment in the future.

Confidential Benefits/Medical File — This file should have restricted access for those who have a “need to know” for leave of absence administration, health insurance administration and administration of ADA as noted in the following sentence. Put everything relating to an employee’s medical history in a separate file. Why? You can’t legally base personnel decisions such as who gets promoted and who doesn’t on the medical histories of the people involved. And various privacy laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that you keep confidential employee medical records separate from basic personnel files. Additionally any information related to FMLA leaves, medical leaves of absence, etc. have no bearing on the employment relationship and should be contained in this file.

Injury File — Maintain a third file within your personnel records for any employee who is injured while on the job. That file should contain workers’ compensation claim records and injury reports, as well as any additional medical records pertaining to the employee’s injury.

Payroll Records File — If you handle payroll for your organization, separate payroll-related records from the other files. Make sure you’re aware of the laws governing payroll-related document retention. Keep close tabs on vacation, sick time and other time-off records.

I-9 File — Employment law attorneys recommend that you retain all Form I-9s (Employment Eligibility Verification) in either a master file or three-ring binder separating these documents from other hiring documents. Because I-9 files are subject to unique personnel records retention laws, a separate master file or three-ring binder will help ensure that you retain these mandated recordkeeping forms for as long as necessary and can readily discard them after the retention period expires.