Q. How long is a company supposed to keep paper records? We'd like to throw out some of our old, archived paperwork. —B.H., Pennsylvania
A. Most federal employment laws impose recordkeeping requirements on employers, as do many state and local regulations. Unfortunately, the federal government has stopped publishing a compilation of the rules.
Before you start pitching papers, keep these two important points in mind: (1.) Records relevant to employment-related disputes of any type must be kept until final resolution of the dispute. (2.) When disposing of employee records, shred or otherwise destroy them whenever possible to avoid the inadvertent dissemination of private information.
Note: When you ask an agency for guidance about your recordkeeping obligations, document the answer so that, if necessary, you can later show you made a good-faith effort to comply.