What Are The Records Employers Are Expected To Develop In The Course Of Employment?

Posted on June 28, 2014 by Rick Rossignol

The employer is the keeper of the record and failure to have accurate records puts the employer at risk. The employer needs to develop certain records to be in and keep them to be in compliance. In general, all records must be maintained for a minimum number of years. The time varies from document to document, and employers should ensure that records are secured in a location that is only accessible to authorized staff. Once permitted to be discarded, they should be destroyed in an appropriate manner, such as by shredding or completely erasing from digital storage.

The following is a quick review of eight record categories:

Hiring Records

Hiring records include ads and postings for open positions, resumes, job applications, pre-employment tests, and reference checks. Records for hired employees should be filed in their personnel files. Documents for applicants not selected should still be kept in an applicant file. The employer is expected to know who they interviewed and why they hired the person.

These documents should be kept for a minimum of 2 years after the position has been filled.

Employee Personnel Files

Employee personnel files typically include the employee’s title, classification and job description. It should also contain their offer letter, performance reviews, promotion and/or demotion details,  attendance and leave-of-absence notices, disciplinary notices, training, testing (including certificates), requests for reasonable accommodations and acknowledgments that they received and reviewed the company policies and employee handbook. the best practice is to have a arbitration agreement, and commission agreement, piece rates clearly spelled out.

These documents should be saved in a secure location for 3 years following the end of the employment relationship.

Payroll & Wage Records

Payroll records consist of the employee’s name, date of birth,  mailing address, social security number, job title and description, terms of employment, pay rates, any union or employee contracts, daily and weekly working hours, total wages paid each pay period, gross and net wages paid, and meal periods.

Employee wage records include the following information, if applicable: wage rate calculation tables, piece rates, time cards including the employee’s hours and days worked, and shift schedules.

Payroll and wage records should be preserved for a minimum of 4 years following employment.

I-9 Forms

Employers are required to complete the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form, otherwise known as the I-9 form. They must include information about the identity of all employees and their authorization to work in the U.S.  While not required by law, it is recommended to save copies of supporting identification and/or work authorization documents in addition to the I-9.

Records should be saved for 3 years after employment or one year after termination, whichever occurs later. I-9s should be stored in a common staff file, rather than in each individual’s personnel file.

Employee Benefits Data

ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, oversees retirement and other employee benefits. Employers must maintain COBRA notices, any records supporting information found in the benefit’s summary plan descriptions (SPDs), and records pertaining to eligibility for benefits under ERISA.

These documents should generally be preserved for six years after employment termination. However, records relating to an employee’s benefits eligibility determination should be kept as long as relevant.


The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period. Request documentation should be stored in the employee’s personnel file. However, if there are specific medical requirements or details of requests (such as a medical diagnosis), these should be placed in the employee’s medical or health file.

This information must be saved for a period of 4 years.

Employee Health Records

Employee health records include drug and alcohol testing records, pre-employment physicals, medical exams, job injuries, OSHA records, and specific medical files.

In general, employee health records should be saved for 5 years. However, any records of a medical examination required by OSHA or resulting from exposure to toxic or hazardous materials should be kept for 30 years.

Workers’ Compensation

Any documentation relating to a work-injury must be saved in a separate file. It should include the employee’s name, the claim number, date of injury, a record if the claim is reported as indemnity or medical-only, and a note if there has been a denial.

Workers’ comp documentation should be kept for a minimum of 5 years from the date of injury or one year from the last date the employee received compensation.

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