What to Keep and Not Keep in Employee Personnel Files What to Keep and Not Keep in Employee Personnel Files

What to Keep and Not Keep in Employee Personnel Files

Employee personnel files should contain information relating to an employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation, and disciplinary actions.  The following types of documents should be included:
  • Job description
  • Job application and/or resume
  • Offer of employment
  • Receipt or signed acknowledgement of employee handbook
  • Performance evaluations
  • Forms providing next of kin and emergency contacts
  • Records of attendance and/or completion of training programs
  • Disciplinary records
  • Documents relating to promotions, transfers, layoffs or termination 
Personnel files should not contain medical records.  If your employee has a disability you are legally required to keep all of the employee’s medical records in a separate file and limit access to only a few individuals.  Even for workers that do not have a disability, you may have a legal obligation to keep medical records private.  Any documents relating to workers’ compensation claims should be maintained in a separate file as well.  Do not include Form 1-9s in your employee personnel file.  This form verifies eligibility of an employee to work in the United States.  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is entitled to inspect these forms and they should be maintained in separate folder.  Finally, do not include unnecessary documents including those relating to an employee’s private life, race, sex, religion, political affiliation, etc.   In many states, employees have the right to view their personnel files.  Be sure to periodically review each employee’s personnel file and check whether the documents in the file are accurate, up to date and complete.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances. 
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