Human Resources is all about Employees and Records

Libby Steiner
June 12, 2023
minute read

Human Resources is all about Employees and Records. Where it all comes together is by properly keeping and safely storing employee records.

Federal laws require businesses to keep employee documents for varying minimum time periods. If a complaint is filed against your business, the record-keeping requirements extend until the claim is resolved.

Minimum time periods for employee documents are as follows:

  • Recruiting records: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires you to retain job advertisements, position descriptions, applications, resumes, interview notes, and screening documents such as credit records and test results for one year from an employee's date of hiring or termination, whichever is later.
  • Employee contracts: Signed employee handbooks, employment contract forms, nondisclosure, and noncompete agreements, written policies, policy changes, and other employment agreements should be securely stored for at least one year.
  • Disability records: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all disability information, including requests for accommodations, must be kept in a separate, secure file for one year.
  • Medical and benefit documents: Health and medical records your business collects should be kept separately from personnel files in a secure location for one year. Benefit plans, offers, and enrollment documents should be kept for the same period.
  • Personnel records: Performance appraisals, compensation records, promotion documentation, timecards, disciplinary records, separation documents, and references should be securely kept for two years.
  • Payroll records: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, you must keep payroll records, supporting documents such as time cards, and any documents that could support a claim of pay bias for two to three years. Since paying discrimination complaints may concern long-standing disparities, you may want to keep relevant pay records on file indefinitely.
  • Work authorization: Employers must keep I-9s for every employee for three years after their hiring date or one year after termination, whichever is later. You only need to keep pages with signatures. You're not required to make copies of identity documents, but if you do, be sure to treat all employees identically and store them with I-9s.
  • Accidents: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most employers to keep records of accidents and injuries for five years. This doesn't include minor injuries that require simple first aid.

These are just the minimum requirements for business paperwork enforced by federal authorities. Many legal and financial advisors recommend retaining documents for far longer periods. 

Having your HR documents in the same place as where you onboard and manage other HR tasks, and having the ability to identify key metrics within your employee data makes for a more productive workforce. Therefore, a good place to start is your payroll system.

It is recommended to have a dedicated Document Storage system such as software of the platform or secure drive, in addition to your payroll platform, to keep your documents secure. 

Platforms such as DocuSign, PandaDoc, EfileCabinet, and PaperVision can scan, sort, index, and store your documents securely, so you can retrieve them easily when needed.

>HR insights by Libby Steiner from Trophy HR.

With over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Libby provides HR support across various industries. She assists organizations in managing their most valuable asset: their people. Throughout her career, she successfully created rewarding and meaningful work environments for companies she worked with. Her passion is helping businesses thrive by providing business owners with peace of mind and more time at a fraction of the cost of a full-time HR director.