Four Employee Files Employer Should Keep

January 26, 2017

Details, details, details. Love ‘em or leave ‘em, but as an employer, you can’t ignore them. It’s imperative for you to maintain accurate employee files. Here’s the lowdown on the four files you need.

  1. Basic Personnel File (Keep a file for each)
  • Résumé or application and references
  • Original job description
  • W-4
  • Performance reviews
  • Health and retirement benefits records
  • Documentation about salary increases, promotions, and disciplinary action
  • Deduction information (e.g., direct deposit, insurance, wage attachments, domestic relations orders)
  • PA certificate of residence
  • Employee loans
  • Pay deductions such as uniforms and tools
  • Time-off records, including vacation and sick time
  1. I-9 File (Keep one master file.)

Keep all Form I-9s (Employee Eligibility Verification) together in a separate master file. I-9s must be retained for three years from the date of hire or one year from termination, whichever is longer.

  1. Medical File

Keep medical files separate from other employee files because:

  • You can’t legally base personnel decisions on the medical history of employees involved
  • Various privacy laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that the records are kept confidential and separate from personnel file
  1. Injury File

If an employee is injured on the job, start a separate file to maintain workers’ compensation claim records, injury reports, and any medical records on the injury.

Best practice suggests you should keep all records for at least three years past termination of the employment relationship. Specific federal laws have varying requirements:

  • Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you need to keep three years of payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, sales, and purchase records. Records of wage computations (e.g., time cards) should be kept for two years.
  • Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, employers should keep all personnel and employee records for one year after termination.
  • Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), you should keep payroll records for three years.

In Pennsylvania, employees can review their own personnel file that contains qualifications for employment, promotion, additional compensation, termination or disciplinary action. Learn more here from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.