Understanding what employment records to store in a secure personnel file helps you avoid potential mistakes and fines. Later, we’ll provide a downloadable employee file folder checklist and personnel file checklist. Select a cross-section of employee personnel files to audit for compliance with workplace policies, and federal and state laws concerning record-keeping processes. Over 20 federal employment laws require some form of documentation and recordkeeping, and maintaining these records in each employee’s personnel file is an essential responsibility for every business. Take the time to double check even the mundane tasks of personnel filing and retention practices. Are security procedures for maintaining medical and other protected information continually updated to be in compliance with new laws and best practices and to avoid new risks?
The checklist will be your tool as you go through each file to ensure each item is in the right place and is present. Each organization may have different needs – some may require school transcripts, copies of varies certifications, or proof of required training. Determine which items on the checklist are “must-haves” (you’ll ask employees who are missing those items to furnish or complete them) and which do not need to be retroactively created.
Are Personnel Files Confidential?
Anything that is not relevant to the job or includes any information that distinguishes an employee’s protected class should be kept confidential and separate from the personnel file. There are eight employee-related HR documents that every personnel file must contain, which include legal employment records—such as payroll tax forms and employee-employer agreements. Maintaining personnel files is an important part of being an employer and protecting yourself from liability. It’s a great way to organize employee data and provides support for human resource decisions. You can choose to manage the files electronically or using a paper-based system; either way, it’s important to include basic employee reports and adhere to the appropriate federal and state laws.
Some family friends owned the restaurant, so the paperwork was a formality. I remember that it included an application and some kind of a note from my parents since I was under 16 years of age. I didn’t have a driver’s license or a passport, so it’s anybody’s guess what I used for identification or if they even asked for it. I also remember that the simple paperwork seemed intrusive and complicated. For a smaller company, the time it takes to conduct all or some of the audit functions described above is likely to save untold expense and misery in litigation or regulatory actions. If a company can “check” all the boxes, it will have a much easier time during depositions and even trial, should that come to pass. The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability.
- If you have paper files, segregate these documents to avoid inadvertently giving access to the wrong people.
- Rippling provides online document storage, including copies of employee contracts, policies, and a copy of your employee handbook.
- Charlette has over 10 years of experience in accounting and finance and 2 years of partnering with HR leaders on freelance projects.
- While hiring managers collect some documents and staffing agencies or recruiters collect others, it is HR that ultimately retains responsibility for complete files.
If a government agency with authority to view I-9 forms conducts an audit of I-9 forms, the audit will occur in the Office of Record in Central Human Resources. Personnel files are shared with people outside HR, which creates compliance issues. Employees may request a copy of any document they sign and can request other documents when they leave. Managers often need access to documents in an employee’s file, such as performance reviews and training evaluations. During litigation or an audit, employee documents might be shared with outside counsel or external auditors and regulators. Legal and HR experts agree that complete, up-to-date personnel files are an organization’s strongest defense against litigation. However, incomplete records such as missing performance reviews, unsigned acknowledgments or the wrong version of offer letters continue to plague organizations.
HR professionals have a responsibility to protect their organizations while also protecting employee information. Because of the sensitive nature of personnel documents, a data breach can lead to identity theft or worse. Since most of these systems were designed to manage HR data rather than documents, they do not really help with employee document recordkeeping. At best, they offer a way to upload attachments to an employee record. HR needs to connect these systems, have them talk to one another and simplify the process of managing HR documents.
Her work appears in “The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry,” and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. You should also be careful of over retention, as this drives up costs. If you have records that should have been deleted, they can become part of a lawsuit. A proper retention schedule provides for defensible destruction of documents. The retention requirements and criteria for different documents make record keeping a challenge.
It is often helpful to approach the review with specific laws in mind. Conduct an extensive review of personnel files to determine that all employees received copies of their job descriptions and that they receive regular feedback from their supervisors. Review your human resources policies to ensure you have written communication about your company’s performance management system. Your employee handbook and new hire training materials should contain information about performance management, and should be distributed to employees upon their first day on the job. There are many company liability issues that can result from improper employment records maintenance procedures. Employers need to demonstrate compliance through production of accurately maintained and stored records. Records audits bring attention to potential violations that can often be remedied expediently.
If not, you can ask the employee to provide you with the updated files or information. Your business should verify that files are in order before any audits such as payroll or labor. Certainly, employees and employers alike feel the requirements for information collected and maintained in a personnel file are bureaucratic and cumbersome. There are advanced degrees with specialization in human resource management. Fifty years ago, “human resource departments” were for huge conglomerate corporations—places that employed hundreds or thousands of employees. Supervisors should have access to employee personnel files when they are making employment decisions. Therefore, only information relevant to an employment decisions should be kept in the personnel file.
Hr Technologies And Document Recordkeeping
A personnel file audit is the periodic and systematic review of your personnel files to assess whether the documents in each employee’s personnel file are accurate, up to date, and complete. The audit helps ensure legal compliance, identifies HR process weaknesses and highlights HR successes. Next, determine where each piece of information for each employee is kept and what information you need to have. Will something be kept in the personnel file, medical/confidential file, or payroll/benefits file? And don’t forget to keep I-9 forms separate from all three of those!
Protection of personal information, such as social security number, home address, phone number, etc. should be considered confidential and shared only with a need-to-know basis. Employers need to have specific procedures and policies in place to protect health information. Make sure all forms and acknowledgements are dated and signed by the employee and employer. I remember filling out paperwork for the first formal job I ever had – a dishwasher and busboy for a restaurant.
A well-defined paper trail of manager-generated documents should justify every employment action a manager takes. Examine your organizational management policies related to human resources. Your leadership should be aware that they are accountable for managing their department functions; however, they must also be held accountable for employment actions. Employment actions for which supervisors and managers are responsible range from disciplinary review to suspensions and terminations. Read leadership training materials, management development curriculum and transcripts from management meetings to determine the frequency with which managers are notified of their obligations and responsibilities. If a department chooses to keep a copy of the I-9 form, it must not reside in an employee’s personnel file. Any copies of I-9 forms must be maintained separate and apart from personnel files.
Can A Terminated Employee Request A Personnel File?
Explain that it is best for the business to have solid employment documentation. Let employees know that you may need their help to gather the information that’s missing, such as their emergency contact information or copies of their resume. At HQAA, the standards addressing human resource files are contained in a separate “block” or set of standards. For the most part, they are straightforward requirements, but organizations sometimes have difficulty understanding how to implement them.
Online Applicant Tracking Systems typically store EEOC information separately from each new hire’s job application and resume; HR can see it, but interviewers and managers can’t. For a full list of payroll forms you may need, take a look at our guide on employer payroll forms. The letter should include information such as start date, job title, salary, and hours. Frequently requested during the annual financial audit and state monitoring visits. If an employee’s title and salary changed mid-year, ensure you have an updated signed offer letter.
Documents Employers Should Include In Personnel Files
Your technology should provide an audit trail of who reviewed what and when. Be able to send a link that delivers only the documents requested and controls how long the recipient has access.
As documents are added to multiple systems, the challenge to locate and keep them up-to-date increases. It is essential, mandatory in some states, for a business to keep and maintain personnel files for all employees in case a lawsuit is brought against them by a disgruntled or former employee. Employers obtain employee personal information, including employee Social Security numbers, for payroll and other employment purposes. Security and maintenance of these employment records is imperative to avoid company liability if these records are accessed and used for identity theft purposes.
Business owners don’t always realize the importance of setting up personnel files until they’re audited or served with a lawsuit. If you are operating in hindsight and nervous about getting everything set up for employees that already exist, don’t stress. Use the two templates we’ve provided above along with the steps for you to get your employee file folders set up and in order. An employee’s manager should not be allowed to see confidential health information within an employee file. In companies where employee files are paper, the file room and/or file cabinets should be locked and a log maintained showing who accessed files.