Record-Keeping Policy - Record Maintenance, Retention and Destruction

 

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[Editor's note: this sample policy includes retention rules that are more generous than the federal law requires. Employers should work with their legal counsel to determine the recommended retention rules for their organization, including any specific state requirements. See a chart of Federal Record Retention Requirements for additional guidance.]

Purpose

The human resources (HR) department retains and destroys personnel records in accordance with [Company Name's] corporate policies on business records retention, as well as federal and state laws governing record retention. Below is an outline of the HR department's operating procedures for personnel record retention and destruction of documents when such retention periods have passed. If [Company Name's] retention procedure is not of sufficient duration for any state in which the company does business, this procedure will be superseded by state requirements.

The HR department maintains both employee record information and government compliance reports. Both are subject to the following retention requirements and destruction procedures.

Maintenance of Employee Records

The following employee information records are maintained in segregated personnel files:

1) Pre-employment testing results and background check information.
2) I-9 forms.
3) Benefits plan and employee medical records.
4) Health and safety records.
5) General employee personnel records.

Government compliance reports are maintained in reverse chronological sequence and filed separately from the above employee information records.

Destruction of Employee and Applicant Records

All paper personnel records and confidential employee data maintained by the HR department will be destroyed by shredding after retention dates have passed; this procedure pertains to all personnel records, not just those governed by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).

Employment application materials submitted by applicants who were never employed are also to be shredded.

When a confidential record must be discarded or destroyed, it shall be marked as confidential and given to the Administrative Services Department to be destroyed in accordance with the record destruction policies. Alternatively, hardcopy confidential records may be shredded using a locked shredder on the [Company Name] premises. In the case of remote employees, employees are discouraged from printing out or creating hard copies of confidential records where possible. If hard copies must be printed, created or kept, they should be stored in a locked cabinet, drawer or other secure location until they are no longer needed, or until the maximum retention period has ended. Remote employees must then destroy all confidential files by shredding them in a locked shredder on the [Company Name] premises, or otherwise rendering the documents unusable or unreadable.

Personnel records include electronic as well as paper records. The HR department will work with the IT department periodically but no less than twice annually to review and ensure that the HR department's electronic records relating to employee information and compliance reports are properly purged.

Litigation Hold

When [Company Name] is involved in or anticipates that it may be involved in litigation, the General Counsel's office will issue a litigation hold. This means that all documents relating to the litigation matter must be kept in order to preserve any potential evidence. If we fail to do so, [Company Name] can be sanctioned by the court for destroying evidence. A court has broad authority to impose these sanctions, which may include anything from unfavorable procedural rulings during a trial to payment of monetary damages.

In the event that the [Company Name] General Counsel announces a litigation hold on any or all [Company Name] records as a result of pending or anticipated litigation, all records covered by such litigation hold MUST NOT be discarded, deleted or destroyed. Further, the IT department will suspend the automatic deletion of emails for all individuals covered by the litigation hold. Any questions about the litigation should be directed to the General Counsel.

Retention of Terminated Employees' Records

Record Types and Retention Periods

Health & Benefits Records
Health & Benefits Beneficiary Forms
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Medical, Dental/Vision Plan Elections
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Drug Test Results
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Education Assistance Program Records
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​FMLA Leave Reports
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​USERRA Leave Records
​Permanent
​Toxic & Bloodborne Pathogens Records
​Termination + 30 yrs.
​Job Related Injuries & Illnesses Records
​Termination + 5 yrs.
​Reasonable Accommodation Records
​Termination + 3 yrs.
Pre-Employment/Employment Documents*​
​Job Description
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Position Requisition
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Recruitment Notice/Job Ads
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Employment Application/Resume
Termination + 3 yrs.​
​Interview Evaluation
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Assessment Results
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Background Check Information
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​References/Verifications
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​New-Hire Action Form
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Offer Letter
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Form I-9
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​EEO Data Form
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Employee Policy Acknowledgements
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Conflict of Interest Statement
​Termination  + 3 yrs.
​Intellectual Property Ownership/Nondisclosure
​Termination + 5 yrs.
​Employee Change Action Documents
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Disciplinary Records
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Employee Development Records
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Position/Pay History Records
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Employee Performance Reviews
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​International Assignment Documents
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Relocation Agreement
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Resignation Letter
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Termination Action Form
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​COBRA Election Notice
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Separation Agreement
​Termination + 5 yrs.
​Exit Interview Form
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Unemployment Claim Records
​Termination + 4 yrs.
​​* Note: If an applicant is ultimately not hired, the above records should be retained for three (3) years after the no-hire decision is made.

Retirement

​401(k) Allocation Records
​Termination + 4 yrs.
​401(k) Loan Payment Forms
​Termination + 3 yrs.
​Pension Eligibility Records
​Termination + 50 yrs.
​Request for Calculation
​Termination + 4 yrs.
​Retirement Beneficiary Form
​Termination + 50 yrs.
​Payroll/Tax
​Paychecks/stubs, W-2s, W-4s
​4 yrs.
​Earnings Register
​4 yrs.
​Employee Withholding
​4 yrs.
​Expense Reports
​3 yrs.
​Federal & State Payroll Tax Forms
​4 yrs.
​Federal Forms 1099
​4 yrs.
​Time Sheets/Cards
​4 yrs.
​Other Payroll Records
​     Computer Loan Agreement
​Termination + 5 yrs.
​     Direct Deposit Records
​Termination + 4 yrs.
​     Garnishment Records
​Termination + 4 yrs.
​     Final Payroll Deduction Checklist
​Termination + 4 yrs.
HR Policies & Reports
​EEO-1 Reports
​Permanent
​HR Policies
​While current + 3 yrs.
​State New-Hire Reports
​3 yrs.
​Affirmative Action Plans/Records
​5 yrs.
​Form 5500
​6 yrs.
​OSHA 300/300A
​Posting date + 5 yrs.
​VETS-4212 Reports
​5 yrs.
​[Company Name] Ethics Hotline Reports*
​3 yrs.
​* Note:  If a [Company Name] ethics hotline report is related to an employee disciplinary matter or other type of record listed herein, then staff should follow the retention period for that particular type of record.



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