Maintaining Employee Files: What should be included?

Although employers should maintain files on all employees, not every document related to the employee should be kept in the basic personnel file. A basic personnel file should include documents such as:

  • Recruiting and screening documents.
  • Job descriptions.
  • Records relating to job offers, promotion, demotion, transfer, and layoff.
  • Education and training records.
  • Pay and compensation information.
  • IRS W-4 Forms.
  • Employment contracts.
  • Handbook acknowledgement.
  • Employee benefits.
  • Letters of recognition.
  • Disciplinary notices.
  • Performance evaluations.
  • Termination records.
  • Emergency contacts.
  • Attendance records.

Employers will create and must maintain other records, but these should be kept separate from the basic personnel file:

  • Documents relating to disability.
  • Veteran status records.
  • Reference/background checks.
  • Drug test results.
  • Immigration (I-9) forms.
  • Unsubstantiated complaints.
  • Medical/insurance records.
  • Child support/garnishments.
  • Litigation documents.
  • Workers’ compensation claims.
  • Investigation records (although documents resulting from the investigation such as disciplinary action records are placed in the employee’s personnel file).
  • Requests for employment/payroll verification.

It is also beneficial to maintain all I-9 Forms in a common and separate file so that they are easily accessible when needed.