Records Retention

You need record retention guidelines – from organizing personnel files and electronic records retention policies to control document management and more.

Business Management Daily provides personnel records retention guidelines, helping you to improve your hard-copy and electronic record retention.

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Q. My company just received notice that an employee filed a discrimination charge against us with the EEOC. What happens now?

We all make mistakes, especially when acting in haste. Unfortunately, a mistake in the employment law world can mean an expensive lawsuit. But courts are inclined to forgive employers that genuinely try to make things right. That’s why employers should fix errors and make sure they remove any potential negative effects of disciplinary actions.

Employers have any number of legitimate reasons to monitor employees’ e-mail and Internet usage. Beyond personal productivity issues, you risk significant loss should an employee download a virus or other damaging software or engage in illegal activity conducted on company computers. Here's a discussion of the risks, plus a sample policy ...

Q. We require all applicants to complete a pre-employment screening form that asks for their date of birth. The firm that conducts our background checks needs that information to perform the screening. Does this practice run afoul of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of age?

The costs of employee absenteeism—reflected in lost production, overtime and temporary replacements for the absent worker—can add up quickly. What’s the best way to combat the problem? With a clear policy, careful documentation, consistent application of the policy and progressive discipline.

Q. An employee asked to review her personnel file, and we let her. Now she wants us to change a discipline notice she found in the file. We don’t have to do that, do we?

Not everyone who has a learning disability or even mild retardation is disabled. Under the ADA, every disability is measured by the individual’s condition and whether or not the condition he claims is disabling substantially impairs a major life function. Thus, someone with minor intellectual deficits may not be disabled under the ADA.

The ADA requires HR and employers to maintain strict confidentiality on any medical- or disability-related information. That means keeping it in a separate, secure file, away from prying eyes that have no business viewing the information. But confidentiality doesn’t apply just to paper or electronic records. Employers also have to make sure they don’t discuss such information with those who don’t need to know.

Q. I understand that I-9 forms can now be stored electronically. To save on office space and filing time, our department is considering scanning and electronically filing all personnel files and documents. Is this OK?

Whether it's deserved or not, the perception that management is "against" employees, once earned, is difficult to shake. That's why it's so important for supervisors and HR to treat all employees fairly and consistently at all times, especially when it comes to discipline. These five questions can help managers gauge whether their discipline is fair. BONUS: 7 tips for documenting your disciplinary process.