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Memo to managers: Recordkeeping guidelines

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management,Records Retention

"Out with the old, in with the new!" chant managers as they dispose of documents that have accumulated in their office throughout the year. But, in your quest to keep a clean, organized desk, you might run the risk of getting rid of documents you must keep under the law.

To help you with your documentation efforts, we're sharing these recordkeeping guidelines with you. Here are some of the documents you should probably retain and a handy list of required document retention periods for the ones you're most likely to reference.

A Manager's Guide to Fair and Legal Recordkeeping

To Keep or Not to Keep

Generally speaking, managers are not responsible for maintaining personnel files, but a majority of the documents that go into those files originate from your office. Check with HR before pitching anything related to:

  • hiring and termination
  • performance
  • promotions and demotions
  • discipline
  • work hours
  • leave requests
  • accommodation requests
  • selection for training opportunities
  • safety and health

This doesn't just include paper documents. It includes electronic ones, as well. Employees, especially those with email access during the workday, might be more inclined to email you and ask, say, if it's okay to take a day off for a doctor's appointment than they are to put the request on paper or to walk down the hall to ask you in person. While the request might not seem retention-worthy to you, it's best to let HR make the call, since they might be aware of extenuating circumstances you're not.

A Manager's Guide to Fair and Legal Recordkeeping is an easy to reference booklet that you can keep in your desk for easy reference. Unsure about what you need to document about a conversation? Have a question about what information you should keep on an employee's FMLA leave? Just grab this guide for an explanation and tips on what your recordkeeping should entail. Get your copy here.

Record-Retention Requirements

An effective document management system depends on knowing not only what to get rid of, but also when it's permissible to get rid of the document. Besides the fact that records take up space and administrative effort, the more you keep, the more likely it is that sensitive information could fall into the wrong hands. By purging old records, you can reduce the risk of superfluous or obsolete records being seen in the wrong light and used against you. But getting rid of records too soon could land you in legal hot water. Federal or state statutes typically dictate record-retention requirements.

Important: While you might not be tasked with personally retaining all of the documents listed below, it doesn't hurt to know the required retention periods of those documents you may reference.

  • Accommodation requests: one year after record is made.
  • Applications for employment: one year from date of submission.
  • Basic employee information: four years after record is made.
  • Basic payroll information: three years after record is made.
  • Dates Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave is taken: three years from end of leave.
  • Demotion records: one year from date of action.
  • Form I-9: three years from date of hire or one year after termination, whichever is later.
  • Job advertisements: one year after record is made.
  • Job descriptions: two years after record is made.
  • Job evaluations: two years after record is made.
  • Layoff, reduction-in-force, recall records: one year from time of request.
  • Merit, incentive, seniority system records: two years from the date record is made.
  • OSHA Forms 300, 300A, 301: five years following the end of calendar year records cover.
  • Pre-employment tests: one year from date of test.
  • Promotion records: one year from date of action.
  • Records relating to discrimination charges: until final disposition of charges.
  • References: one year after record is made.
  • Résumés: one year after submission.
  • Termination records: one year after termination.
  • Time cards/sheets: two years after record is made.
  • Transfer records: one year from date of action.
Do you always know which records to keep?

It's usually up to HR to meet state and federal recordkeeping requirements. But managers need to have good knowledge of the requirements, too, since they are responsible for a great deal of what goes into them.

Lawsuit-Free Documentation: A Manager's Guide to Fair and Legal Recordkeeping is full of real-life examples, practical advice and suggestions to help you stay in compliance when it comes to the myriad laws regarding your records, how you create them, and how you store them. Our 38-page Guide Booklet is a quick read, but it's full of information to help you be both fair and legal, 100% of the time. It even includes a brief true-or-false test to keep you on the right path.

Get your copy today!

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