HR Question of the Month
Retention of employee documents varies at both Federal and State levels. Employers must maintain I-9 records, W-4 forms, and any state tax allowance forms that may be applicable.
For privacy reasons, the personnel file has specific EEO and HIPAA requirements. Here is a comprehensive list of what to include or avoid in your personnel files.For privacy reasons, the personnel file has specific EEO and HIPAA requirements. Here is a comprehensive list of what to include or avoid in your personnel files.
The personnel file generally contains the following documents:
- Job description for the employment position and job advertisements.
- Offer of employment.
- Employment contract (if applicable).
- Job application.
- Employee’s resume.
- Signed employee handbook acknowledgement.
- Forms providing next of kin and emergency contacts.
- Documents acknowledging receipt and review of other employer policies, such as nondisclosure, arbitration of employment disputes, safety practices, or other company-specific rules.
- Performance reviews and other performance-related documentation.
- Certifications, training taken, awards, etc.
Types of separate confidential files:
- Pre-employment file, including background checks, interview notes, assessment results, work samples, and other information used in the selection process.
- Payroll file, including Form W-4 and other payroll-related information.
- Benefits file, including benefits enrollment, beneficiary designations, leave of absence forms, or other confidential medical information.
- Forms I-9 verifying employment eligibility.
- Investigation files (if applicable).
- EEO records.
If you still have concerns about how to file documents, consider the following questions:
- Will a supervisor or manager have access to the document?
- Is the information contained in the document relevant to an employment decision?
- Is it related to the employee’s performance, knowledge, skills, abilities, or behavior?
If the answer is yes to these questions, then the document likely belongs in the employee’s personnel file. If the answer is no to any of the questions, then it’s better to err on the side of caution and maintain the document in a confidential file.