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The FMLA’s recordkeeping requirements are less onerous than those of other federal laws. For example, normally you’re not required to submit books or records to the U.S. Labor Department more than once during any 12-month period.

A caveat: If the DOL has “reasonable cause” to suspect an FMLA violation or is investigating a complaint, it can demand to see records anytime it chooses.

You don’t need to complete any special forms or revise your computerized payroll or personnel records system to comply with the FMLA. But your FMLA records must show basic payroll and identification data, including the employee’s name, address, occupation, rate of pay, hours worked per pay period, deductions and total pay. You also need to keep records of the dates on which an employee takes FMLA leave and designate the leave as such to maintain it separate from time off provided under state law or an employer plan different from the FMLA.

Also, note the hours an employee takes when going on intermittent leave and the weekly hours worked on a reduced schedule to which you and the employee have agreed. Make sure you have this information in writing.

Keep copies of the FMLA notices you provided to an employee in his or her personnel file. And make sure you have documents that describe your employee benefits and personnel practices about taking both paid and unpaid leave.

You must handle FMLA medical records with the same level of confidentiality as required by the ADA. Keep all medical documents (such as certification of FMLA eligibility, recertification or the employee’s or the family’s medical histories) in a separate file. You have to treat them as confidential, although you may make the contents known to supervisors who must accommodate an employee’s medical needs.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act forbids employers from destroying or discarding any documentation, paper or electronic, that could possibly be needed as evidence in a lawsuit. FMLA-related records of an employee involved in a whistle-blower suit could be relevant, especially if he or she charges retaliation.

Bottom line: It’s best to coordinate all document storage and destruction schedules so as not to run afoul of any federal or state law.

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