Did You Know that Joe Got a 5% Pay Increase—I Looked in His Employee File!
You collect forms and data from employees, probably because somewhere along the way someone told you it was necessary. You open the files when you need something, and they sit for the rest of the time. Why should you be concerned about the state of your employee files? Don’t you have more important things to be concerned about? Of course. But what happens when someone who shouldn’t have access to the private documents contained in the employee files, accesses them? Or, even worse, an auditor shows up to review those files? Think that won’t ever happen to you? Well, I hope you are right, but remember … “hoping” is not a defensible strategy.
What if confidential information contained in an employee’s file is seen by someone who is not supposed to see it, and that person takes legal action? You could be held liable for the information you misfiled. Think it’s a small risk? Think again. Ever hear of identity theft? Take the time to ensure your employee files are accurate, up-to-date, and only contain pertinent information. You may thank yourself one day.
What Should an Employee File Contain?
Typically, the file holds the employee’s job application and anything pertaining to the interview or selection process. If you have paperwork detailing any background checks, it should remain here. Also, contracts regarding non-compete or confidentiality agreements are filed in this location. Got a signed acknowledgement for the employee’s receipt of his or her handbook? Put it in here as well along with job descriptions, performance evaluations, attendance documentation, transfers, salary history, promotions/demotions and pertinent contact information.
What should not be included? Any forms or documentation that are private. Examples include medical examinations and physician notes, health care insurance enrollment forms, beneficiary information, disability statements and workers’ compensation matters. These should be held in a separate file and accessed by select Human Resource staff members who are trained to know what needs to remain private. Also, I-9 forms and supporting documentation are to be maintained separately from the employee personnel files, unless you are looking for a $1,000-plus fine per infraction!