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How to Maintain Employee Records
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How to Maintain Employee Records (with checklist)

Managing employee records manually? Get tips and a free checklist.

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Manage Employee Records with Confidence

Although those grey metal file cabinets aren’t as popular for office décor as they used to be, creating a system to maintain employee records is critical for your business. Organized documents are not just nice to have, they can also make it easier for you to evaluate claims and verify information; not to mention maintain compliance with federal and state employee recordkeeping requirements. It’s almost fair to say, when in doubt, don’t throw it out. However, there are rules to maintaining employee records. Some files should be compiled separately while others should be all together. To help you manage employee records, we’ve provided a checklist to ensure you are keeping up with the most important documents.

What should be kept in employees’ files?

These days, electronic forms have made it much easier to manage your employees’ records. Many employee files are maintained in an HCM platform and are readily accessible. Paycor HR, for instance, can use the information from a candidate’s application to create a new hire file, which eliminates duplicate work. This file includes:

  • Job application and resume
  • Job description
  • Offer letter
  • Personal data (address, emergency contact, etc.)
  • 1-9 form

If you are manually keeping records and not yet using an HCM platform for employee records, there are at least three categories of information that your organization should retain through the duration of your employees’ career (and afterward). This includes personnel files, medical/benefits files and payroll files. There are also miscellaneous files that should be kept related to FMLA, EEO claims, COBRA and more.

Download the full checklist for complete details.

  • Personnel files include pre-employment items that can be carried over from the hiring process (above). These also include training checklists, employee handbook acknowledgment, performance reviews, documentation of disciplinary action, promotions and certifications that have been earned.
  • Medical and benefits files include doctors’ notes, worker’s compensation claims, injury reports, OSHA information and beneficiary information.
  • Payroll files include PTO usage documentation, work schedules, pay rate information, withholding documents, timecards and overtime authorization.

Having the most up-to-date information about your employees will make your life easier if you ever need to supply evidence for any claim, dispute or audit.

And, when it comes to compliance for employee recordkeeping, be sure to mind the rules of your state. There are specific requirements for retaining paperwork for up to three years post-termination and storing some files separately to comply with privacy laws like HIPAA.

What are employee recordkeeping requirements and how long should a company keep employees’ records?

Some recordkeeping requirements vary by state, but federal agencies are clear on what should be kept where and for how long. For example,

  • The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) requires that employers must keep all payroll records for three years.
  • EEOC regulations require that employers keep all personnel or employment records for one year.
  • FLSA (The Fair Labor Standards Act) states that employers must keep payroll records for at least three years and employers must keep all records (including wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements) that explain the basis for paying different wages to employees of opposite sexes in the same establishment.
  • Employment law attorneys recommend keeping I-9 Forms in a separate file to monitor expiration dates as they are subject to specific record retention laws.
  • Due to privacy laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employee medical records must be kept separate from basic personnel files.

Who is responsible for managing employee records?

Employee record retention is a core function of HR. Documents should be kept in a secure facility or cloud with restricted access to respect employee privacy. Many employers now use electronic recordkeeping to save space, eliminate unnecessary environmental waste and to save time when searching for a specific document.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor creates HR software for leaders who want to make a difference. Our Human Capital Management (HCM) platform modernizes every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop people, to the way you pay and retain them. But what really sets us apart is our focus on business leaders. For 30 years, we’ve been listening to and partnering with leaders, so we know what they need: HR technology that saves time, powerful analytics that provide actionable insights and dedicated support from HR experts. That’s why more than 28,000 businesses trust Paycor to help them solve problems and achieve their goals.

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