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When does human relations recordkeeping begin and where does it end?

September 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM

No matter what size a business is, recordkeeping for human relations starts well before a job candidate enters the work place for an application or interview. But, a myriad of laws and regulations from state and federal governments require different retention times for different kinds of records. This can be confusing to even the most experienced HR professional.

Some employee management software companies that specialize in HR recordkeeping make it hard to delete records by asking repeatedly if you are sure you want to delete a certain record. The designers did not put this code into the software to drive HR people crazy; they did so because deleting a record that still must be kept can have serious consequences, even monetary penalties.

Here is what makes keeping record retention straight so difficult; following are five record keeping areas that are under the responsibility of HR with different retention requirements.

General Personnel Records

In general, the law requires that retention of these be records for one year from the time a record creation occurs or an action happen, whichever is later. Some attorneys suggest that this includes documents related to the placement of employment ads.

Equal Pay

At least two years retention of any record that contains information used to substantiate wage differentials between men and women.

Payroll and Leave Records

Retention of certain information is three years according to the United States Fair Labor Standards Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The information kept is employees name, address, occupation, and birthday, rate of pay and weekly compensation of every employee for three years of the date of his or her last paycheck. But, the recently enacted Lilly Ledbetter Law, also known as the Fairpay Act of 2009 (the first bill signed into law by President Obama) creates a moving statute of limitations that starts every time an employer issues an inadequate paycheck to an employee.

I-9 Forms

These forms are required for a retention period of three years after hiring or one-year after separation; whichever is later.

Employee Medical Records

These employee files must be securely stored for a period of thirty years (HIPAA compliant) following employee separation. The reasoning behind this outlier retention is that some cancers caused by exposure to carcinogenic toxins in the workplace may not manifest symptoms until decades after first exposure.

These illustrate only five examples of the Byzantine record retention requirements that face all companies. They are especially burdensome to small and medium size companies where HR is sometimes the responsibility of another discipline. Employee management software helps mitigate the dangers of tossing important records prematurely.

HR software often helps create a complete employee file that includes the initial job posting or ad, job requirements and all details of the job and the person selected to fill the position. A small investment in a computer based HR system is well worth the savings in potential fines and/or lost litigation due to improper disposal of employee files.



Tags: employee files employee management software
Category: Employee Management Software

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