I was thrilled that a consultant told me that I was extremely organized. Sitting in my office where I consistently practiced management by stacks of paper I did not always feel as confident. She asked, “Do you know what’s on the desk and where to find just what you need?” I did know. My system put current projects at my finger tips, tough to ignore. Self employment requires juggling a wide variety of projects and I continue to have a few clumps in view. I pack separate brief cases for training, writing and consulting. I know the value of being able to retrieve information and making certain items are not misplaced.
Hire an Employee, Collect Data, Fill Out Forms
Whatever the state of your record keeping the task is more complicated for employers. As soon as someone is hired paperwork starts to mount both required and optional. The must haves begin with an I-9 that proves employment eligibility and a W-4 to indicate appropriate deductions for taxes.
Employers could probably stop with two forms but most add:
- Employment Application
- New Hire Form
- Offer Letter
- Performance Evaluations
It does not take a large workforce to start collecting:
- Pre-employment Drug Testing Results
- Credit Check Results
- Benefit Plan Enrollments and Changes
- 401(k) Documents
- Receipts for Employee Handbooks and Company Equipment
What’s in your file cabinet?
The list can grow much longer with vacation requests, promotions, authorizations for raises and a whole range of documents. In our digital world much of this information may be created electronically but is eventually printed out for signature and storage. These items, with all of their personal information, including individual identifiers, should never be found among a pile of papers on anyone’s desk.
It seems like a safe bet to stash anything related to an employee into a personnel file. Not so, making one spot the repository for everything will quickly run afoul of regulations.
Do you really need to keep it?
The first task is to discard anything that does not need to be kept. I had a client that sent lovely email announcements out welcoming each new hire and retained a copy in the personnel file. Why? These collected along side copies of every vacation request to fill up fat folders. Seek out HR or legal advice about contents you set aside because you can’t decide whether to save or toss.
Check the edited personnel file for documents that have to be kept separately. This list includes I-9 Forms, including back-up copies, pre-employment credit checks and anything that has to do with medical or benefits. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers keep separate files of medical information.
Concerns about H1N1, equal pay claims and security add to the complications of what to keep where. I’ll delve into detail about requirements and recommendations for personnel records retention during a web conference on Thursday, November 19th. Join me for HR Record-Keeping 2009: Keeping Your Files in Compliance With Legal Changes. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed by filing to keep up with requirements