When it comes to HR
Solutions, filing usually isnt 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.
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 doesnt. To avoid confusion, heres what should be in
a personnel file:
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
Federal and state W-4 forms (once processed,
keep all copies)
Direct deposit authorization form
Copy of the employees orientation schedule
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
Any disciplinary notes
Any progressive discipline documents
Payroll change confirmations
What Doesnt Belong
in the File?
Heres where most business owners
fall shortnot everything goes into the personnel file. Its 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 employees 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 informationanything
containing personal health informationin a separate “employee medical
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 youre unsure whether you have
all the information you need on each employee, maybe its time for a file
audit. You may be surprised to find you dont 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 theres 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.