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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. An ex-employee whom we fired is now asking to take some documents from his personnel file. Is he legally allowed to do this? Do we have to give him the information just because he's asking for it? —L.B., North Carolina

Don't open an employee's' personal mail If you know that a letter or package sent to that person at work is personal (not business related). A recent court ruling shows that you may be opening up a legal mess along with the letter ...

Q. We’re cleaning up our personnel files and updating emergency contact information. Some employees don’t want to provide their contact information. Is it legal for us to require them to give it to us? —S.S., California

Q. What's the law on letting employees review all their personnel files? Can we prevent it? —J.S., Utah

Q. Congress just gave employers the OK to maintain I-9 records electronically. I do payroll for a church. How can we make the switch from paper to electronic? —D.K., Arkansas

Q. I keep on file each employee's application, résumé, performance evaluations and any other praise or disciplinary records. Do I need to provide my employees with access to their files? And, if so, do I have to show them everything? —S.K., New Hampshire

Q. You recently said 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? —S.S., California

Q. Our employment application states, “This application will remain active for six months.” Is this time frame advisable? How long should applications remain active? And how long should I keep completed applications? —K.S., Minnesota

Gov. Rick Perry recently issued an executive order creating the Texas Health Care System Integrity Authority, a new public-private partnership that aims for better use of information technology in the health care industry ...

Q. I've just joined a new company, and our HR people give out employees' information (wage data, demographic info, etc.) to anyone who calls to request it. Is that right? —P.L., Virginia

Q. What should we keep in personnel files? —G.T., Missouri

Employers who rely on the expertise of foreign scientists, engineers and nurses would be wise to review the processes they use to recruit and pay employees under H-1B visas. The EEOC has taken a keen interest in whether promises made to induce foreign talent into the United States are being honored. And more visa holders are hiring lawyers and suing for broken promises ...

If an employee is suffering from performance problems and wants a transfer to another supervisor or position, be careful which details in the person’s history you share with the new manager. That’s especially true if the employee has a history of filing legal complaints ...

Q. In a previous issue you said employers “must keep certain records separate from personnel files.” What, specifically, does “separate” mean—in separate drawers of the same file cabinet? In separate offices? How far apart do they need to be? —T.S., Illinois

Q. We recently received a subpoena to produce the contents of an employee's personnel file in connection with a lawsuit. The employee is a party to the lawsuit, but the company is not. Do we have to comply with the subpoena? Should we tell the employee about the subpoena? —K.H., District of Columbia

Q. We fired an employee based on an eyewitness account of theft. We documented that report and put it in the ex-employee's personnel file. That person has now hired an attorney and asked to see the file. We feel that we have no obligation to respond. Do we have to turn it over without a subpoena? —E. I.  

A top-performing employee is diagnosed with depression and now says her medication makes it impossible for her to make it to work on time. Must an employer change her work schedule? A job applicant volunteers that he is intellectually disabled but says he can perform his job with a job coach. Is that a reasonable accommodation? Are you prepared to answer those questions ... and more?

New federal court rules for electronic-records maintenance and discovery took effect on Dec. 1, 2006. The rules govern discovery of electronically stored information in federal civil litigation ...

HR Law 101: Nowadays, most organizations conduct exit interviews with departing employees to determine why they’ve resigned. Exit interviews can be a great HR tool, but you have to know what questions to ask and, at the same time, what questions to avoid for legal reasons ...

HR Law 101: The FMLA's recordkeeping requirements are less onerous than those of some other federal laws. But you must handle FMLA medical records with the same level of confidentiality as required under the ADA ...

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