Whether you have a workforce comprised of five people or 5,000, it’s crucial to have rigid procedures for personnel policies associated with employee files. From resumes to drug test results and performance evaluations, you’ll undoubtedly quickly build a large collection of documents related to your workers. If you don’t have rules in place that dictate how those files are to be handled, you could find yourself and your company facing a lawsuit for breaching employee confidentiality.
There are actionable strategies you can implement to ensure employee files are secure and well organized. Keep in mind, the suggestions below should be adapted so they best fit the size of your workplace and the number of files you have.
Decide How Long to Keep Employee Files
If you don’t get rid of employee files after a certain amount of time passes, you’ll likely soon find your office space overrun with personnel files for people who don’t work at the company anymore. Decide upon, and make known, the amount of time you will retain an employee’s files after he or she has left the company.
When it is time to destroy employee files, always do so in a responsible manner, such as by using a crosscut paper shredder. Keep relevant personnel files in locked containers, and strictly manage who has access to the keys.
Determine Whether Certain Files Should Be Stored Separately
Some companies choose to store some types of employee files outside of a person’s main personnel file. Some examples may include documents that relate to medical conditions, work-related injuries or grievances.
It’s important to work out a system that maintains the security of such files yet allows you to access them quickly. Color-coded folders could help you visually spot certain types of files, so you may want to store all medical files in blue folders, grievance incidents in red folders and so on.
Assign Roles to Keep the Files Accurate
Depending on the makeup of your workplace, the responsibility of maintaining the files may fall on a single individual, or an entire team. Roles should be assigned so files are regularly examined to verify the information is still correct and that none of the documents have expired.
Furthermore, schedule audits where designated members of the workforce will carefully peruse all employee files to verify they are filled out completely and accurately. Even if you are doing your job to the best of your abilities as a human resources specialist, there’s still a chance you could overlook something or otherwise make mistakes. Audits not only preserve the validity of the files but also reduce the chances errors could become costly by resulting in lawsuits.
Make a Plan for Keeping Things Organized
Highly organized files don’t just bring increased peace of mind, they also make it less likely an important personnel document could get misplaced and possibly seen by an unauthorized person. Two of the most common ways to organize personnel files are by topic and in chronological order.
In the first example, you might have a personnel file segmented into topics such as performance reviews, resumes, letters of reference and disciplinary actions. Conversely, you may opt to just organize everything chronologically so the files related to an employee’s earliest days at a company are at the front of the file, and the more current material is found further back.
Hopefully these tips have suggested that coming up with best practices for personnel policies related to employee files isn’t as daunting as you may have envisioned. The important thing is to stick to the policies you put in place and let employees know if and when those rules change. The sooner you take care of this necessity, the more protected you’ll be from potential legal troubles.
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