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How Long Must an Employer Keep Employment Records?

If you are an employer and you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork you must maintain, you are probably wondering if you can get rid of your old employment records. Before you start shredding all those former employee’s records, there are a few factors you should consider.

There is no strict rule that sets forth a required period of time an employer must retain all employment records. This is true whether the documents are kept in paper or digital form. Because there are a variety of different retention rules, many employer follow a general guideline of retaining an employee’s file for four years after the employee has left his or her employment.

While maintaining an employee’s records while they are employed with you plus an additional four years covers you under most laws, there are three types of documents you should retain for a longer period. Thus, before you dispose of an employee’s file, you should remove these records:

  • If the employee incurred an on-the-job injury, any first-aid documentation should be retained for five years
  • Documents regarding the employee’s pension or welfare plan information should be maintained for six years
  • If the employee was the victim of toxic or chemical exposure while on-the-job, all safety data sheets must be retained for 30 years

In today’s age of technology, retaining employment records in a digital format makes it easier for employers. However, it is important that you properly file, index and store the records so they can be located and accessed if needed. Having them saved “somewhere” on your network is not sufficient. Thus, all employers should implement procedures for ensuring employment records are properly maintained.

If you have questions regarding an employment or business law matter, contact us to schedule an initial consultation.

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