HR Solutions – Perfect Personnel Files

When it comes to HR
Solutions, filing usually isn’t a favorite occupation. However, making sure
you get your personnel files in order ensures you have all the relevant
personnel information you need and improves your ability to find it should you
be called upon to produce it.


Safeguard the

It should go without saying, but anything
containing the personal information of your employees (and your customers for
that matter) should be safeguarded at all times. You should also remember that
any files containing any level of
personal information should always be kept under lock and key, and you should
limit who has access to them.


What Goes in the

            There are some hard and fast rules
about what goes into your personnel files, and what doesn’t.  To avoid confusion, here’s what should be in
a personnel file:


Employee resume

Complete and signed application form

Background check consent form

Background check results

Reference check records

Copy of the employee’s new-hire letter of
confirmation of employment stating position, hire date, rate of pay and other
legal language

Federal and state W-4 forms (once processed,
keep all copies)

Direct deposit authorization form

Copy of the employee’s orientation schedule
outlining training

A copy of the relevant job description,
preferably signed by the employee

A record of any assets deployed to the employee,
preferably signed by the employee

Emergency contact form (staple to the inside
front of the folder for easy access in the event of an emergency)

Any personal information or payroll change
forms. Make sure employees sign off on some record when you make changes to
payroll. These should be kept in the personnel file unless you maintain a
payroll folder for each payroll.

The various employee handbook acknowledgments.
At a minimum, an overall handbook acknowledgement. Preferably, also have signed
copies of your harassment policy, computer use policy, confidentiality policy
and drug screening policy, if you have one.

Any internal memos regarding the employee,
including promotions, transfers and any special arrangements you have made with
the employee.

Any disciplinary notes

Any progressive discipline documents

Payroll change confirmations

Resignation letters

Termination notes


What Doesn’t Belong
in the File?

Here’s where most business owners
fall short—not everything goes into the personnel file. It’s important that
medical information and I-9 information is separated. Follow these guidelines:

Keep I-9 verification forms in a separate
binder. I-9 information should be filled out on an employee’s first day. Not
only should you document the information on the form, but also make copies of
the identification provided as verification.

Store any medical information, such as benefit
enrollments, doctors’ notes, workers’ compensation information—anything
containing personal health information—in a separate “employee medical
information” file.

Use a different color folder for your medical
files, and file them next to the employee’s personnel file or alphabetically in
a separate file cabinet under lock and key.

Keep payroll binders together, by pay date, with
the back-up documentation or reporting of all changes made per pay. Document
changes outside of routine W-4 changes with something signed by the employee.


Check Your Records

If you’re unsure whether you have
all the information you need on each employee, maybe it’s time for a file
audit. You may be surprised to find you don’t have important information when
you go through this exercise.

Also, make sure you have an actual
process in place when you hire someone. Even a simple checklist will ensure
that you collect all of the information you need to legally hire someone into
your organization. From new hire to departure and all the steps in between,
make sure there’s a record of anything relevant to each individual employee.
Doing so will ensure you hire legally and can produce necessary information
when called upon to do so.

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