The goal of getting organized is often on the top of every employee’s wish list, and while nobody really enjoys dealing with large stacks of paper, eventually it’s time to sort and file. Properly creating and maintaining personnel files for your employees can provide huge benefits in the long run. Whether you need to view their job description, look through notes from previous managers or comply with a government audit, you will have all the necessary information right at your fingertips.
Employee files can be separated into as many categories as your workplace needs or requires, but most companies use at least these basic three: a personnel file, a confidential file and a common file. If the document contains personal information that should be kept secure (such as the employee’s social security number, medical information or criminal history) the personnel file isn’t the right place to file it. Consider putting documents with private information into a confidential file that is locked. A good rule of thumb is to only include documents in a personnel file that relate to a job, performance or qualification. Any other documentation should be stored elsewhere.
What Documents Belong in a Personnel File?
A personnel file houses many different documents, all of which should be available to human resources, supervisors and managers. If the document has any information regarding the employee’s performance, skills, knowledge or behavior, it should be stored in the personnel file. In the case of a lawsuit, it’s important to always maintain files to the best of your ability. That means every file should be updated when an employee gets a wage increase, has an evaluation or receives disciplinary action. Here is a list to help you know what should be included in a basic personnel file:
- Recruiting documents and any correspondence (emails or letters) utilized during the screening process, including the job application, the employee’s professional resume, and educational transcripts if they were provided
- Job descriptions for any and all positions the employee has held while working for your company
- Documentation of job offers, acceptance letters, transfers, promotions, demotions, layoffs, compensation, education and training requirements
- Emergency contact information
- Written complaints from customers
- Employee benefits documentation
- All compensation and pay information, including any requests from the employee for a wage increase
- Employment practices letters, acknowledgements and agreements
- Recognition documentation, including letters, gifts or prizes
- Counseling, warnings and other disciplinary actions and notices
- Performance notices, including goal settings and evaluations
- Any notices that have to do with termination
What to Do With Other Documents
You’ve probably already realized in your professional career how much paperwork there is to file. The list above is lengthy, but even that doesn’t cover all of the documentation for employees. Consider creating a separate file from the personnel one that can include all of the following secure information.
- Employee medical records
This includes drug test results, doctor’s notes, medical questionnaires and accommodation requests.
- I-9 forms or other government documents
This documentation is required by the government and they may ask to see it at any time. Don’t keep it in the personnel file because government workers aren’t allowed access to the other confidential documents you store in that file.
- Other documents and unnecessary records
Depending on what state you live in, your employee may have the right to view their personnel file at any time. Try to only keep the necessary information in there, and keep the rest of it stored in another secure location.
If your company is the recipient of a lawsuit, you will want to have all the information in an employee’s personnel file updated. Keep it organized by date, and set a goal to regularly (annually or semi-annually) go through and maintain the documents. It could save you from a harsh outcome.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.