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Employers are consistently questioning what records the government requires their company to retain and what records they should keep to protect the Company from potential lawsuits.

Personnel records should contain only information which is needed by the Company to conduct its business or which is required by federal, state or local law. This information normally includes but is not limited to, the following:

  • Application forms
  • Form W4 - required by Internal Revenue Service
  • Form I9 - required by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Resumes
  • Pre-employment tests
  • Employment referral records
  • Payroll information including: name, employee number, address, telephone number, age, sex, occupation, pay rate, deductions from wages, work week hours (flexible schedule documents), etc.
  • Performance appraisals
  • Disciplinary records
  • Attendance and tardiness records
  • Benefits eligibility records
  • Accident reports and workers' compensation claims
  • Persons to be notified in case of emergency

The Personnel Department should review the personnel records periodically to insure that they contain information that is relevant to each individual's employment with the Company.When practical, material that is irrelevant, inaccurate, or obsolete should be revised or deleted from the file.

In addition, employees have a responsibility to keep their personnel records up to date, and should notify their Personnel Department in writing of any change in name, address, telephone number, marital status (for benefits and tax withholding purposes only), number of dependents, and beneficiary designations for any of the Company's insurance, disability, pension and profit sharing plans.

Employers need to be aware that information in personnel records can become a liability in the event of employee litigation, particularly if the records are not reviewed periodically and unnecessary information removed.

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