Ask any HR Professional and he or she will tell you that that recordkeeping is very important and a very thankless part of the job. We all know that good recordkeeping can mean the difference between losing or winning an employment action that may be taken against your organization.
What makes recordkeeping so confusing is that there are a number of different laws that require you to keep all kinds of documents for varying timeframes, including Title VII, ADEA, FLSA, FMLA, ERISA, the Equal Pay Act as well as OSHA. Past litigation has highlighted troubling spots including omitted information, incorrect information, sloppy files and even “smoking guns” lurking in files.
General personnel records
1 year from the time a record is made or an action is taken, whichever is later.
Equal pay records
Any record relied upon to justify wages differentials between men and women, 2 years.
Payroll and leave records
Name, address, occupation, birthdate, rate of pay and weekly compensation, 3 years under FLSA, ADEA and FMLA .
3 years post hire or 1 year after termination, whichever is later.
5 years, employee medical records need to be kept for 30 years after termination; some cancers due to workplace exposure do not manifest themselves until much later. (This is an outlier)
Good record keeping is your best defense against litigation or employee complaints. The last thing you want to be doing is looking at your organization’s President and the company’s Attorney and say we do not have not keep those records.
It is my recommendation that you add at least 1 to 2 years to each of the above timeframes because the last thing you want is to be standing there with no records.