HR Management: Record Retention

HR Management: Record Retention

Written by:  Cheryl Nathan, Director, HR Services

I know that most people think springtime is the time of the year for the big clean and purge in their homes – for me it’s November.  With two young children in the house, I have to purge toys and other “stuff” – to make room for the new stuff that may be coming our way at Christmas (not to mention making room for a Christmas tree and other holiday decorations in our well used living room).

Record RetentionFrom an HR perspective, this is also a good time of the year for some cleaning and purging in the office.  I tend to keep only active employee files and the last 2 years of terminated employee files in my office – all others are boxed up, labeled and stored accordingly (either in an on-site secured closet or an off-site secured storage area).

I also purge my terminated I-9 binder and shred any I-9s for terminated employees that have passed the “3 years after date of hire or 1 year after date of termination whichever is later” rule.

As an HR Consultant, I often get questions about record retention – how long to keep terminated employee files, for example – and the answers are always so difficult.  Retention regulations do exist for various statutes:

(a) FMLA records should be retained for 3 years

(b) FLSA records for 2 years

(c) ERISSA documents for 6 years

(d) OSHA logs for 5 years/OSHA exposure records for 30 years and

(e) COBRA information for 7 years

However, the passage of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 has changed legal opinion regarding the length of time to keep any/all related personnel records.  Current legal opinion states to create a document retention system that will allow the organization to defend itself against pay discrimination claims, which includes:

Indefinite retention of documentation of pay decisions and decisions related to promotions, job assignments, layoffs and other decisions that affect compensation.

That is a lot of “stuff” to keep “indefinitely” – but luckily off-site storage and electronic storage options are available.  Just remember to clearly label all boxes/files before storing them – it will make your life much easier if you need to retrieve an old file or document at a later date.

So, while the answers are not crystal clear – and the solutions may be challenging – be glad that at least at home you can purge toys and clothes in a much quicker time frame!

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About the Author

FosterThomas is a leading professional services company that provides solutions in the areas of Human Resources Consulting and Outsourcing, HR Staffing, Outsourced Recruiting, Employee Benefits Brokerage, Payroll Implementation and Services, HR for Government Contractors, Business Insurance, HR Compliance and Risk Management. We help organizations by providing solutions designed with a focus on cost containment strategies and increasing HR efficiency. FosterThomas HR Consulting was established in 1993 with offices in Annapolis, Maryland (Corporate), McLean, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina. Today, FosterThomas occupies a unique position as a full service provider of HR services.

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