Demystifying the facts about Human Resource Laws

This post was originally published in the Blog of Quick Assist Company. It was written by Approach HR's Owner & HR Consultant, Ailee Nelson.

Many managers and supervisors can relate to this scenario. A new employee has joined your organization, and it’s taken quite a bit of effort to get to the stage of on-boarding. Congratulations on those first steps, which in themselves require a lot of clear knowledge on fair hiring practices.

In my first blog, I will share facts you should remember when managing the slew of paperwork that surrounds your new hire. In future columns, I will continue to offer knowledge nuggets to keep you informed on this vital area of your business, whether large or small.

Employment Files - What You Need to Know

I am often asked the question about what to keep in employment files.  It may surprise you to learn that the following employment documents must be separated into individual employment files:

  1. Pre-employment testing (i.e. drug testing and background check information)

  2. I-9 forms (an active topic that I will cover more in depth in future blogs)

  3. Benefits plan and employee medical documents

  4.  Health and safety records (i.e. flu shot documentation)

  5. General employee personnel documents (job application, resume, references, interview notes, reviews, disciplinary actions)

Where do I keep all of this information? For how long?

I strongly recommend my clients to keep a secure electronic copy of all employment files. This may involve scanning. The time it takes to do this may very well protect you in case an item is lost, misplaced, or stolen.

 Maintenance of documents is guided by state law.  I am able to assist businesses with what to keep and for how long, as it does sometimes vary.  Generally speaking, payroll, paychecks/stubs, W-2s, etc. should be kept four years after an employee terminates.  Again, in general, all other documents should be kept securely for three years following termination.


What does secure storage entail?

As mentioned previously, you are safest having secure electronic copies of all documents.  Otherwise, a locked file cabinet, drawer, or other secured location is acceptable.


This is a lot of paperwork. How is it best to purge files using the above guidelines for retention?

Be sure you follow state law for maintenance of documents. Following this retention period, you may safely shred them using a locked shredder on company premises.


Congratulations!  You are well on your way to ensuring your new hire is successful from the beginning.


Where can I find more information?

Keeping current with Human Resource laws can be challenging. I routinely work with clients guiding them through the process with ease.  I credit much of this content, including information contained in this blog, through my business knowledge, as well as professional membership in the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). 

Ailee Nelson