Recordkeeping Questions of the Week

EEO-1 Report Requirements for 2017

Question:

September is the time I start thinking about my EEO-1 Report, but I remember that they have added things that must be tracked.  What are the changes and is the due date still September 30?

Answer:

Change seems to be the key word.  The due date for the Employer Information Report EEO-1 has been moved from September 30 to March 31, 2018.  In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) suspended the collection of compensation data, which means employers will NOT have to submit compensation data with the March 31, 2018 EEO-1 form.

If you are an employer with more than 100 employees and specific federal contractors, you are still required to submit employment data to be categorized by:

  • Race,
  • Ethnicity,
  • Gender, and
  • Job category.

The Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic stated,

“The EEOC remains committed to strong enforcement of our federal equal pay laws, a position I have long advocated. Today’s decision will not alter EEOC’s enforcement efforts.

I had consistently urged OMB to make a decision on this matter so that stakeholders would be aware of their reporting obligations.

Going forward, we at the EEOC will review the order and our options. I do hope that this decision will prompt a discussion of other more effective solutions to encourage employers to review their compensation practices to ensure equal pay and close the wage gap. I stand ready to work with Congress, federal agencies, and all stakeholders to achieve that goal.”

The employment data used for the 2017 EEO-1 report should be selected from a payroll period in October, November or December, the fourth quarter of calendar year 2017. So, you are off the hook for September but need to keep March 31, 2018 on your calendar.  Be prepared!

 

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions. However, it is extremely important and can get you into hot water if not done properly. strategic HR, inc. has a great Recordkeeping desktop reference to guide you through your recordkeeping requirements to maintain workplace compliance. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having strategic HR, inc. assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more.

When Does An Employee’s I-9 Form Need Updated?

Question:

I have an employee who was recently married and changed her name.  Does she need to complete a new I-9 form with her new name?

Answer:

When an employee changes their name (legally) employers are not required to complete a new I-9 form.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Services recommends that employers note the name change in Section 3 of the form.  To make sure your records are in order, here are the points to consider:

  • It is not necessary to document the new forms of identification but most employers, for payroll purposes (not for the I-9 form), will require a copy of the new social security card.
  • It is important for employers to make sure payments are made to the legal name on an individual’s social security card to ensure their W-2 is correct and there are no mismatches.
  • For purposes of the I-9 form, an employer must make a reasonable attempt to ensure the name change is appropriate by requesting a copy of a marriage license or a divorce decree or even a letter from the employee’s religious representative if necessary.

If you have more questions concerning I-9 forms, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Employers Handbook for completing Form I-9.

 

Recordkeeping is full of “if this, then that” situations.  You will often hear us say “it depends” when asking about personnel files and recordkeeping.  Keep the guesswork out and get an HR expert in your corner that can provide a solution to any HR question or need.  Check out strategic HR, inc.’s Virtual HR Coach.  Our Virtual HR Coach is a strategic solution to your everyday Human Resources needs and provides access to our Virtual HR Library (A self service HR solution available 24/7, providing immediate resources covering all areas of HR – forms, toolkits, policies, answers to questions, articles, etc.)

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The Importance of Following Federal Poster Requirements 

Question:

According to the Federal Poster Requirements: Workplace Posters Overview, there are so many posters and compliance documents that I am supposed to provide to my employees, are they really important?  None of my employees read the posters that are up in the break room and I know they never read the compliance information I put in their open enrollment packets, why bother?

Answer:

The reason we bother is because the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act care about these posting and notices and will fine organizations when they do not comply with Federal Poster Requirements.  In January 2017, the penalties for such violations just increased.  So…the next time you think “why bother”…keep in mind the impact of not bothering.  In the Payroll Department, Inc blog article Civil Penalties for DOL Violations Increase January, 2017″, some of the Federal Poster Requirement violations are:

  • Don’t want to post the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) notice?  $166
  • Don’t want to pass out that annoying-ly long Summary of Benefits for your health plans? $1105 (And, each enrollee is a separate violation!)
  • Have a safe work environment and don’t want to post the OSHA poster?  $7000!

Penalties for failing to furnish information, required notifications, and failing to maintain necessary records are often assessed per employee, per day and can add up very quickly.  So, keep this in mind if you ever find yourself asking “why bother?”

 

Recordkeeping is one f the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important and can get you into hot water if not done properly. Keeping appropriate recruiting and hiring documentation is vital to proving, if needed, your employment processes are compliant. Strategic HR, inc. has a great online tool that’s affordable, easily downloaded and ready for immediate use. Our Recordkeeping desktop reference has everything you need to see at-a-glance recordkeeping requirements mandated by law. Visit our Desktop Reference page to learn more.

 

 

 

Has Trump’s Administration Changed ACA Compliance?

Question:

With regards to the new presidential administration and ACA compliance, is it still necessary to provide the ACA forms to our employees or should we wait and see what happens and if the legislation is repealed?

Answer:

No, you definitely should not wait!  You will be out of compliance.  

Regardless of what is going to happen (repeal or not) the ACA compliance regulations are still in place TODAY.  So, employers must continue to ‘play by the rules’ until a legal ruling is in place.

The bottomline is to keep doing what you were doing.  

If you haven’t completed the forms yet, the good news is that the IRS actually extended the deadline for employers to furnish the 1095-B and 1095-C forms for 2016.  

  • Typically they are due on January 31.  The deadline has been extended until March 2, 2017 to get those forms out.  Not a lot of time but an extension is an extension.  

It is important to note that even though the dates to furnish these forms has been extended, the deadline for the 1094-B and 1094-C are still due March 31, 2017 (electronic filers) and February 28 (paper filers).  These documents are generally required by employers with 50+ employees, but check out the requirements to make sure you do (or do not) have to comply.

Recordkeeping is one of the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important and can get you into hot water if not done properly. Keeping appropriate recruiting and hiring documentation is vital to proving, if needed, your employment processes are compliant.  Strategic HR, inc. has a great online tool that’s affordable, easily downloaded and ready for immediate use.  Our Recordkeeping desktop reference has everything you need to see at-a-glance recordkeeping requirements mandated by law.  Visit our Desktop Reference page to learn more.

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Recordkeeping – A New I-9

Question:

Did I hear right, there is a new I-9 available? Do I have to start using it immediately?

Answer:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that a new I-9 form is available.  The new form can be used immediately, BUT the old form can continue to be used until January 21, 2017.  To obtain the new I-9 form, go to: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9

Are you in compliance with the recordkeeping rules around I-9s?  strategic HR, inc. has helped many clients conduct an audit of their I-9 records and ensure any errors are corrected. For more information on how we can assist you, contact us at info@strategicHRinc.com.

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Equal Employment Opportunity Reports

Question:

I just completed our EEO-1 report and now I hear it is changing?  Is that true?

Answer:

Yes!  For those of you that are happy to have accomplished hitting “submit” of your EEO-1 in the past month…SURPRISE…we will get a few extra months to complete the form next year – but only because they want additional data on the report.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just announced a new revised EEO-1 report that will need to be completed by March 1, 2018 for all employers with over 100 employees.  The revised form will require these employers to  accurately track and report on:

  • The number of hours employees work;
  • Identify their employees’ earnings using W-2 wage data over a 12-month period; and
  • Classify employees in one of 12 pay bands in an effort to highlight and eliminate pay disparities.

It will be important for you to make sure your information is being accurately categorized beginning January 1, 2017 so this information can be easily captured for reporting.    For more information refer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to clean out old records and keep handy the pertinent ones. Keeping track of all the paper is extremely challenging. Strategic HR, inc. understands your frustration and has many tried-and-trusted tips on recordkeeping. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about getting your employment records in order.  Plus, check out our Recordkeeping Desktop Reference in our HR Store.

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Updating Federal Posters

Question: 

I received another notice of a new poster that is required, do I really have to update my posters?

Answer:

The Department of Labor did update the Federal posters that employers are required to post in the workplace. The changes were effective August 1, 2016 and included changes to the language on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) posters. The new language highlights the revision to penalties for non-compliance and language regarding nursing mothers’ rights improper classifications of independent contractors, and information regarding tip compensation.

Also if you meet the requirements for FMLA (over 50 employees), there was a revision to the FMLA poster on April 2016 you should have already updated.

To save time, effort, and money, you can print these posters and post them “over” the old section on the posters you currently have:

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions, but it is vitally important. What you keep can be as detrimental as what you don’t keep in some instances. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having strategic HR, inc. assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about our services.

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Recordkeeping


Question:

I keep everything. I am always afraid of throwing items away that deal with my employees. Does it matter? Why shouldn’t I just keep everything?

Answer:

Record DESTRUCTION is almost as important as recordkeeping. Keeping files that are no longer required (legally) can present other unique issues for human resources. Old records that are no longer pertinent could be pulled in an audit or lawsuit and create other problems for you. As an employer, be sure to have policies and procedures in place to govern your company’s record retention guidelines and be sure to review state and federal rules.

Still have questions on recordkeeping? Check out some of these past posts on this topic:

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing or change to a new system. Keeping some documents readily accessible, but confidential is extremely important. But so is knowing when to get rid of and destroy a document. strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention.

Visit our HR Store to learn more about this handy tool. 

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Correcting I-9 Form

Question: 

How do I correct a mistake on my employee’s Form I-9?

Answer:

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Website, if an employer discovers an error on an employee’s Form I-9, the correction should be made by:

  • Draw a line through the incorrect information
  • Enter the correct information
  • Initial and date the correction

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions, but it is vitally important. Take the I-9 Form for example. Failure to complete this form on a new employee could result in a series of fines. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having strategic HR, inc. assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about our services.

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Deadline for 1095-C for Affordable Care Act

Question:

When is the deadline for filing the 1095-C Form to comply with the Affordable Care Act?

Answer:

All Applicable Large Employers (as defined by the Affordable Care Act) are responsible for filing Form 1095-C no later than March 31, 2016. This deadline was extended. This form (different from the detailed 1095-B) describes what health care was made available to the employee.

Recordkeeping is one of the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important and can get you into hot water if not done properly. Keeping the right files easily accessible and up-to-date is vital. We have years of experience maintaining HR documentation and knowing what to keep and what to pitch. Need some help? Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more.

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When To Complete an I9 for a Rehired Employee?

Question:  

We are starting to gear up for seasonal hiring for the summer.  If I rehire seasonal workers from last year, do I need to have them complete a new I9 form?

Answer:  

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, if an employee is rehired within three (3) years of the date that a previous Form I-9 was completed there are two options:  

  1. The employer may complete a new Form I-9 for the worker.
  2. Complete Section 3 of the previously completed Form I-9.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing. Keeping some documents accessible, but confidential is extremely important. Strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention. Visit our HR Store page to learn more about this handy tool. 

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I-9 Forms for Seasonal Employees

Question:

We have many employees who return to work for us each summer as seasonal employees.  Do I need to complete a new I9 for them each year or just use their old form?

Answer:

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service website, if the seasonal worker is continuing in his or her employment and has a reasonable expectation of employment at all times, his or her return to work would not be considered a new hire, so a new Form I-9 is not required. If the worker is not considered to be continuing in his or her employment, then the old form may still be sufficient to meet the verification requirements if the worker’s return to work is a rehire within 3 years from the date the old Form I-9 was completed. The employer can complete Section 3 of the old form or use Section 3 of a new form and attach it to the previous form. If re-verification is not necessary, provide the rehire date and complete the attestation portion of Section 3.

However, the employer should ensure that any necessary re-verification has been completed timely. The employer should complete the rehire date, re-verification and attestation fields if work authorization has since expired. If re-verification is necessary and there is a new version of the Form I-9, Section 3 of the new version must be completed and attached to the previous form.

For additional information, click here.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to clean out old records and keep handy the pertinent ones. Keeping track of all the paper is extremely challenging. Strategic HR, inc. understands your frustration and has many tried-and-trusted tips on recordkeeping. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn different ways strategic HR, inc. can help you with your recordkeeping. 

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Electronic Pay Stubs

Question:

How to be legally smart when providing electronic pay stubs to employees when their checks are direct-deposited?

Answer:

Many companies are switching over to paperless solutions for payroll for a variety of reasons; cost reductions, employee requests, time savings, and more.  This may seem like an easy solution, and it can be.  However, there are different laws that employers should be aware of when it comes to providing these electronically.

On a federal level, employers are not required to provide pay statements.  However, many states (41) require that employers provide employees with this statement of earnings…and each state is different in how and what needs to be included.  When it comes to electronic pay stubs, only a few states have addressed electronic delivery.   It appears that every state allows electronic paystubs as long as certain conditions are met…the most important being that the employee has the ability to print the pay stub on their own.  Some other states require “opting-in” to the program.

In summary, electronic pay stubs are permitted, but must comply with state law mandates.  Each state’s laws are different, so the best option is to check your individual state’s laws and your payroll provider to ensure compliance.

Recordkeeping is full of “if this, then that” situations. You will often hear us say “it depends” when asking about personnel files and recordkeeping. Keep the guesswork out of keeping your files in order and up-to-date. Strategic HR, inc. has a handy desktop reference ready to guide you on the documents you can keep together in an employee file and how long you need to keep them. Visit our HR Store to request a copy of our Recordkeeping reference.

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Hiring Foreign Nationals

Question:

What should I know about hiring foreign nationals and how can I avoid discrimination claims in the hiring process?

Answer:

It is important for employers to understand the federal laws and regulations regarding immigration status and national origin discrimination.  Discrimination may be happening without the employer even knowing, but guess what?  It’s still illegal and employers who participate in discriminatory behavior can be required to pay civil penalties and also backpay to any injured parties.

So, how can this be avoided? The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel offers some scenarios in which employers have violated discrimination laws.  Below are a couple of the major “don’ts” when it comes to hiring without discrimination.

  • Do not request additional documentation from non-US citizens that are lawfully authorized to work in the US. If non-US citizens are legally allowed to work in the US and they have supplied appropriate documents such as valid driver’s license or unrestricted social security card, they do not need to provide any other additional documentation.  They should be treated no differently than US citizens going through the same process.
  • Do not reject work authorization documents from non-US citizens but accept the same documents from US citizens.
  • Do not immediately rule out applicants that receive a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) on E-Verify, as there could be many reasons why that notice was received.
  • Do not use E-Verify on a selective basis to rule out “foreign” candidates.
  • Do not reject applicants that “look or sound” foreign. If an employer is refusing to hire any applicants solely based on the fact that they look or appear foreign, this is an obvious violation of discrimination laws.   

Recordkeeping can be a challenge, especially when there are files everywhere! Keeping a handle on what is where is vital to staying compliant with the law and out of hot water. Know what to keep, where to keep it and for how long with our handy-dandy Recordkeeping Desktop Reference. It’s affordable, downloadable for immediate use, and only from strategic HR, inc. Visit our Desktop Reference page to get your copy today.

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Keeping Electronic Recruiting Correspondence

Question:

Much of our recruiting is now done online and via email. Do I need to keep the emails generated from our last round of hiring? Does it matter if the candidate followed through with a response or not?

Answer:

You need to keep any records from the search for one year – those that you were considering AND those that you were not (even those that applied but may not have followed through with a response to your email). Keeping them in an electronic file is great – date it and pitch it next year. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to keep employment records for one year. After that time, employers can either discard the record or archive it, provided they maintain the confidentiality of information contained in each record. Suppose you have a resume, cover letter, list of references and brief notes from a telephone screening, yet you decided to select other candidates for in-person interviews. The records generated, including electronically, during the course of the preliminary screening are, in fact, hiring records. They must be kept for one year, pursuant to EEOC regulations.

Another important reason to keep hiring records on file even if the applicant wasn’t hired is so applicants don’t have possible recourse if they are rejected during the hiring process. Applicants who claim they weren’t hired based on factors not related to the job (i.e, race, sex, national origin, age or religion) have up to one year to file a formal discrimination charge with the EEOC. Should the EEOC decide to investigate the applicant’s complaint, the agency can ask employers to produce records used during the hiring process. The company’s hiring practices don’t look favorable if the employer can’t comply with the request because it has discarded the hiring materials.

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions, but it is vitally important. What you keep can be as detrimental as what you don’t keep in some instances. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having strategic HR, inc. assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about our services.

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Electronic Recordkeeping Checklist

Question:

What do I need to consider when moving to an electronic filing system?

Answer:

Electronic communication and recordkeeping is a great way to save space and allow quick access to files. But it takes some effort to get the systems set up properly and to convert paper to e-files. In considering what type of system will work best for your organization, there are many items that must be kept in mind during the transition. The following pre-implementation checklist will help to reduce potential risks associated with electronic recordkeeping systems.

  • ValidationRecordkeeping system must be validated to ensure that the documents are truly valid (i.e. accurate, reliable, non-altered documents).
  • Readability – Must be able to print an accurate, legible, readable copy of the record.
  • Access – Must take measures to protect items from unauthorized access.
  • Protection/Confidentiality – Must contain legally acceptable means to protect records.
  • Retrievable – Must provide a means for easily accessible files and retrieval.
  • Audit Trail – Must use secure, computer-generated, time-stamped audit trails to independently record the date and time of operator entries to assist with validation.
  • Back Ups – Provide a process for the electronic storage including procedures for labeling of electronically maintained records and a secure storage environment, including an off-site storage location.
  • Quality Assurance Program – Regular review of the electronic recordkeeping system, including periodic checks of the records.
  • Disposal of Originals – Properly dispose of the originals after they are transferred to an electronic recordkeeping system. Documents which have legal significance or inherent value as original records (i.e. notarized documents, sealed documents) should be maintained as originals.
  • Record Retention – “Cleaning house” presents new challenges for electronic recordkeeping if your files are not stored accurately or with enough detail to evaluate destroy dates. One consideration when storing files would be to store records via functional area, similar to how you store files today. Also, pull potential audit or legislative issues in a separate file for frequent evaluation.

With some forethought and planning moving from paper-based to electronic files will reward you greatly with time, and ultimately cost, savings.

Recordkeeping is one of the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important and can get you into hot water if not done properly. Keeping the right files easily accessible and up-to-date is vital. We have years of experience maintaining HR documentation and knowing what to keep and what to pitch. Need some help? Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more.

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Electronic Recordkeeping and Communications

Question:

What is the best way for our company to “go green” and transfer our paper files to electronic files?

Answer:

Electronic communication and recordkeeping has been and continues to grow in practice. As such, we have seen government rulings providing guidance to employers who want to move to this less paper-intensive mode. The support of such legal guidance has enabled electronic recordkeeping and communication to become more prominent, allowing HR professionals to become even more productive. Of course, productivity does not come without some significant legal concerns and challenges that must be considered when implementing an electronic system.

According to the IRS an electronic record is “any combination of text, graphics, data, audio, pictorial or other information representation in digital form that is created, modified, maintained, archived, retrieved, or distributed by a computer system”. Various vendors are able to provide electronic solutions that will allow an organization to implement such systems and assist in the management and destruction of records properly, these include:

Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) – Allowing individuals to manage their information on a desktop system.

Electronic Imaging System (EIS) – Allowing employers to manage documents that are scanned and electronically stored.

Records Management Software (RMS) – Tracking software used to manage information about where records are physically stored and to stay on top of destruction dates for documents.

All of these types of systems aid in electronic recordkeeping, just at different extremes and offer great electronic alternatives to employers wishing to move toward electronic storage. “Going green” may not be the easiest thing to do, but a carefully thought out electronic filing system with good policies and procedures will most certainly help you!

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing or change to a new system. Keeping some documents readily accessible, but confidential is extremely important. But so is knowing when to get rid of and destroy a document. Strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention. Visit our HR Store to learn more about this handy tool.

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Organizing Employee Records

Question:

Now that we’ve started another new year I’d like to reorganize our employee records, but I’m not sure where to start. Can you provide some guidance?

Answer:

Before you put yet another document into an overstuffed employee file, make a fresh start in 2014 by reevaluating your current employee record-keeping system. Whether you’re going to stick with paper files, create computer-based folders or go high-tech and store your records in the cloud, you need to create at least four separate sets of records for each employee:

  • PERSONNEL FILE: Outlines basic information such as name, address, phone number, emergency contacts, Social Security number and anything else that’s specific to the employee.
  • PAYROLL FILE: Contains salary information, benefits, pay rate changes and other legal documentation that affects the employee’s paycheck.
  • MEDICAL FILE: HIPAA requires employee medical information to be maintained and kept confidentially. Information about health insurance, life insurance, medical leave or other documents containing private medical information goes in this file.
  • I-9 FORM FILE: You must have an I-9 form on file for every employee you hire, and the I-9 files must be kept separately from all other confidential employee files.

Separating and maintaining employees’ files helps ensure that you’re in compliance with federal regulations and that files are secure and will be managed appropriately. A good records-management system can also protect your organization in the event of an audit or litigation.

Here are some tips that might help you get your employee records into good, legal shape:

  1. Document all decisions related to an employee’s hiring, initial training, ongoing training and disciplinary action.
  2. Know how long you must legally keep each document you put in an employee file. Please follow this SHRM link for additional record retention information.
  3. Create a checklist (either electronic or on paper) showing what needs to be recorded and kept, how to document that information, and how long to keep it.
  4. Choose an electronic format that you know you’ll have access to in seven years. That ensures you will be able to retrieve those records when you need them
  5. Develop a secure system for destroying employee records once you do not have to legally retain them. Consider not only paper files or even computer-based records, but the hard drives of computers you take out of service and any copies that employees might have saved to mobile devices or home-office computers.

Best of luck in the new year and with your recordkeeping review.

Recordkeeping is full of “if this, then that” situations. You will often hear us say “it depends” when asking about employee files and recordkeeping. Keep the guesswork out of keeping your files in order and up-to-date. Strategic HR, inc. has a handy desktop reference ready to guide you on the documents you can keep together in an employee file and how long you need to keep them. Visit our HR Store to request a copy of our Recordkeeping reference.

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Managers Maintaining Personnel Files

Question:

One of our Department Managers wants to keep his own set of personnel files for his employees at his desk. Is there a legal reason for him not to do this?

Answer:

There is no law forbidding your manager from maintaining separate personnel files (i.e., “desk files”) for their employees. However, there are many laws that govern which documents an employer must keep, how they should be maintained, how long they are kept and in what manner they are to be destroyed. It is important that HR ensures that managers understand this responsibility if they want to keep their own files. In fact, just these requirements alone may make it impractical for many employers to allow separate desk files.

If you do decide to allow your managers to maintain their own files, here are some general guidelines:

Items you CAN have in a Desk File:

  • Observations about the employee’s job performance
  • Examples of the employee’s job performance and documents establishing the employee’s goals
  • Commendations and/or performance improvement documentation
  • Performance reviews
  • Attendance records and time-off requests

Items you CANNOT have in Desk File:

  • Doctor’s notes or any other medical documentation
  • Workers’ compensation claim documents, including the supervisor’s report on the injury
  • Any formal or informal legal claim by or about the employee
  • Employee’s Form I-9
  • Any workplace investigation materials regarding the employee
  • Background investigation reports
  • Personality or other test results
  • Any non-job-related information, e.g., personal information about the employee

It’s easy to understand why a manager would like to keep his own records close at hand. But it is imperative that HR properly trains managers in what they can and cannot keep and instructs them in the reasons why these rules are in place. It’s a good idea to conduct an occasional audit of separate files to make sure managers are in compliance with your policies on recordkeeping.

Recordkeeping can be a challenge, especially when there are files everywhere! Keeping a handle on what is where is vital to staying compliant with the law and out of hot water. Know what to keep, where to keep it and for how long with our handy-dandy Recordkeeping Desktop Reference. It’s affordable, downloadable for immediate use, and only from strategic HR, inc. Visit our Desktop Reference page to get your copy today.

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Disposing of Old Records

Question:

What is the proper way to dispose of old employment records?

Answer:

Recycling is good for the environment, but it’s not the best way to dispose of your old employment records. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for “how” to dispose of such documents there are some other examples we can look to for guidance.

Turning to the government, in 2005 the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) created the Disposal Rule to provide direction for the proper disposal of information or documents derived from a consumer report obtained for business use. While the rule applies only to items derived from a consumer report, in many instances employment records contain such information typically gathered via background or credit checks. The Disposal Rule states that businesses must take “reasonable measures” to protect against unauthorized use of such information during and after its disposal. Failure to dispose of such information in a proper manner can result in substantial fines (up to $1,000 plus costs and attorneys fees), however, there are no specific guidelines for HOW to dispose of such items.

Which leads us to the healthcare industry. Known for handling enormous amounts of sensitive health-related information on a daily basis, the healthcare industry takes meticulous care with similarly private and personal information, including measures for it’s destruction. Document disposal guidelines in medical facilities often include:

  • Keeping a schedule of destruction activities – to know when certain documents are eligible for disposal.
  • Maintaining a log of the documents being destroyed.
  • Destroying documents on company grounds (versus sending them off-site for destruction by shredding or incineration).
  • Having two employees responsible for the document destruction to ensure proper disposal and to acknowledge that the destruction took place.
  • Using the same method of destruction each time.

Taking into consideration the number of documents you need to destroy and your budget, the method of destruction is really up to you. There are document companies that will come to your location and under your supervision destroy (usually by shredding) documents and then send them off for recycling.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to clean out old records and keep handy the pertinent ones. Keeping track of all the documents created in an employment situation is extremely challenging. Strategic HR, inc. understands your frustration and has many tried-and-trusted tips on Employment Recordkeeping. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about getting your employment records in order.

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What To Do With The New I-9 Form

Question:

I heard there was a new I-9 form approved recently. What do I need to do? Do I need to complete one of the new forms for all of my employees?

Answer:

Employers must use the new Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to prove the eligibility of new workers beginning on May 7, 2013 or they will be subject to penalties under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationalization Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1324a. The latest version of the newly two-page form includes revised completion instructions and new information fields all in an attempt to make the form easier for employers and employees to complete. If you already have a completed form for each of your current employees, there is no need to replace the older forms with this new version. Just be sure to use the new version going forward or face stiff penalties.

NOTE: A Spanish version of the new form is available but can only be used for reference in the U.S. for completing the English version.

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions, but it is vitally important. Take the I-9 Form for example. Failure to complete this form on a new employee could result in a series of fines. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having strategic HR, inc. assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about our services.

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Voluntary Classification Settlement Program

Question:

What is the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program?

Answer:

Launched in 2011 by the IRS, the Voluntary Classifcation Settlement Program (CVSP) is an initiative to increase tax compliance and reduce the hassle of voluntarily reclassifying workers as employees within a company for federal employment tax purposes. Those accepted into the program obtain relief from federal payroll taxes owed, avoiding penalties and interest, and will not be audited on payroll taxes related to the affected workers, although they must pay a fee based on wages paid each eligible employee for the past year.

To apply for this program, an application should be filed at least 60 days prior to the date the employer wants to begin treating its workers as employees. But before you choose to participate in this program, ensure that you are aware of and have adhered to the prerequisites that allow you to take advantage of the streamlined process.

To be eligible, an applicant must:

  • Consistently have treated workers in the past as non-employees,
  • Have filed Forms 1099 for its workers for the previous three years,
  • Not currently be under audit by the IRS, by the DOL or a state agency concerning the classification of these workers.

Be sure that your HR Department and company leadership fully understand the impact of reclassifying your workers as employees before doing so. You will need to consider if there are any additional issues to address, for example, does reclassifying workers impact the benefits you will now need to offer these ‘new’ employees?

Strategic HR, inc. knows that keeping abreast of legal compliance issues can be daunting, especially when the laws keep changing. We can help you stay compliant by fielding your questions and offering resources to help you identify and mitigate compliance issues. Visit our Compliance page to learn more about our auditing services which can help you identify trouble spots in your HR function.

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Performance Review Copies

Question:

Am I required to provide my employees with a copy of their performance reviews?

Answer:

We consider it a best practice to give employees a copy of their performance review since it is being discussed with them, it can affect your/management’s decisions regarding their compensation, and it is a signed document. However, no law mandates that you provide it to the employee.  See below for an excerpt from Nolo on State Laws on Access to your Personnel File:

While many states now have some type of law regulating personnel files…most of these laws control not the content of the files, but, rather:

Whether and how employees and former employees can get access to their personnel files,

• Whether employees are entitled to copies of the documents in them, and

• How employees can contest and correct erroneous information in their files.

In some states, [employees] have a right to see those files only if they are related to a lawsuit [the employee] filed against [his/her] employer or former employer. Even then, [he/she] might be in for a legal battle over what portions of the files are relevant to the case. But, in many states, [employees] have the right to see the contents of [their] personnel file—or at least some of the documents in it—without filing a lawsuit.

In Ohio, for example, “there is no law in Ohio that requires an employer to grant an employee access to his or her personnel file. There are, however, two key exceptions: medical records and wage and hour records” (Source).

Let strategic HR, inc. help you navigate the employment law minefield. Ask us for assistance with any of your legal compliance needs. Please visit our Compliance page for more information on any of these services.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center the outer edge is emphasized

How do I handle missing I-9 Forms?

Question:

My company recently conducted an I-9 audit and found that we are missing approximately a dozen I-9 forms. I don’t know if they were accidentally purged, filed incorrectly, or never completed. Can we ask the affected employees to fill out another I-9? If so, do we ask them to backdate it or use the current date?

Answer:

There are two types of I-9 errors: (1) technical and procedural errors and (2) substantive errors. Technical and procedural errors can be corrected. An example is forgetting to record a document title, which can easily be fixed – and fines are discretionary. A substantive error cannot be corrected. If audited, your company will likely face a fine if the statute of limitations has not run. Examples of substantive errors include failing to complete I-9 paperwork or not signing or dating Section 2 of the form.

Substantive Errors
In a recent decision, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Chief Administrative Hearing Office noted the difference between technical/procedural violations and substantive errors. The agency explained that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was intended to relieve employers of liability for certain minor and unintentional violations but wouldn’t act as a shield to avoid its basic requirements. When an I-9 form isn’t properly kept or completed, the violation is considered substantive and therefore uncorrectable.

If an I-9 form is lost, destroyed, or not maintained as required by the INA’s retention requirements, the appropriate action is to come into compliance with the law as quickly as possible. Once identified, a missing I-9 form should be completed by the employer and the affected employee immediately. This won’t correct the error, but it does demonstrate a good-faith effort to comply with the law, which may be considered if penalties are assessed.

Penalties
Failure to comply with I-9 verification and document retention requirements could result in a penalty. The minimum penalty for a first offense is $110; the maximum penalty is $1,100. Penalties are assessed based on several factors, including:

  1. The size of the employer
  2. Any good-faith efforts undertaken by the employer
  3. The seriousness of the violation
  4. Whether the individual involved is an unauthorized alien
  5. Any history of previous violations by the employer

The statute doesn’t require that equal weight be given to each factor, nor does it rule out consideration of additional factors.

It’s important to never backdate an I-9 form. Employers that make false statements or attestations to satisfy the employment eligibility verification requirements may be fined, imprisoned for up to five years, or both (and could be higher in certain fraud cases). If an investigation reveals that an individual knowingly committed or participated in acts relating to document fraud, additional fines may be imposed. For a first offense, the fine starts at $375 and can go as high as $3,200 for each fraudulent document that is the subject of the violation. For subsequent offenses, the fines range from $3,200 to $6,500 for each fraudulent document that is the subject of the violation. “Fraud fines” are imposed in addition to penalties for substantive errors.

Bottom line…always ensure compliance within the appropriate three-day verification period. While substantive violations are not correctable, every effort should be made to ensure good-faith compliance when a discrepancy is uncovered. If a discrepancy is discovered, you are at risk of incurring substantial fines in the event of an audit. Trying to correct an error after the fact by backdating or tampering with incomplete or missing I-9’s will only worsen the problem.

Recordkeeping is one of the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important and can get you into hot water if not done properly. Keeping appropriate recruiting and hiring documentation is vital to proving, if needed, your employment processes are compliant. Strategic HR, inc. has a great online tool that’s affordable, easily downloaded and ready for immediate use. Our Recordkeeping desktop reference has everything you need to see at-a-glance recordkeeping requiements mandated by law. Visit our Desktop Reference page to learn more.

 

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GINA Recordkeeping

Question:

What do I need to know about GINA Recordkeeping Guidelines?

Answer:

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, known as GINA, was enacted to protect employees (and would-be employees) from discrimination and harassment based on their genetic information (GI), as well as their family history of genetic information. The regulations prohibit employers from using GI when making job-related decisions such as job placement, promotions, hiring and firing. GINA was finalized by the EEOC to take effect in April of 2012. The law, applying to employers with 15 or more employees, includes the following:

  • Employers cannot request or buy genetic information for potential hires, employees, or their family members.
  • Any genetic information obtained must be kept in a separate employment file, away from the employee’s other medical information.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from using genetic information when establishing rates, premiums or eligibility (excluding life, disability and long term care insurance).
How does this impact you? As an employer you’ll need to make sure you avoid violating the guidelines by adhering to the following:
  • Make sure your employees are aware of the GINA guidelines. Mandatory employment notices should be up-to-date with GINA information.
  • Provide information to supervisors and employees on workplace harassment with regard to genetic information (GI).
  • Be careful about gathering GI, including family medical history, for wellness programs. Generally speaking you cannot collect this information – however there are certain exceptions to the rule and GINA regulations offer some guidance.
  • Keep medical documents for employees (such as health insurance paperwork and medical history) filed separately from the rest of the employment records.
  • If you require a medical exam during the employment process be sure you do not collect GI after an offer of employment has been made.
For more information on GINA and to access a good FAQ, visit the Department of Labor website.

Employment Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing. Keeping some documents accessible, but confidential is extremely important. Strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention. Visit our HR Store to learn more about this handy tool.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center benefits and compensation is emphasized

Payroll Recordkeeping

Question:

I recently received a letter from my payroll provider reminding me to download my payroll records from last year before they were purged. I thought payroll records had to be retained for a certain number of years?

Answer:

You are correct – payroll records need to be maintained for at least 5 years following termination. However, it is the employer’s responsibility to maintain these records and not the payroll provider. We have heard various accounts of the length of time a third party payroll company will keep such records. To be safe, check with your provider to learn their policy on keeping records and don’t assume they are following the federal guidelines – they are not legally required to do so. Then make sure you are keeping sufficient copies of these records in accordance with federal law.

We asked our payroll provider – Think Pay – how they handle payroll recordkeeping.  Think Pay confirmed that they are not required by law to maintain records for clients beyond one year. However, they have not purged any client records in the 10 years that they’ve been in business. Plus, they send clients a CD at the end of each year containing all records for the year (including quarterly reports, tax filings, and W2s).

Recordkeeping is full of “if this, then that” situations. You will often hear us say “it depends” when asking about personnel files and recordkeeping. Keep the guesswork out of keeping your files in order and up-to-date. Strategic HR, inc. has a handy desktop reference ready to guide you on the documents you can keep together in an employee file and how long you need to keep them. Visit our HR Store to request a copy of our Recordkeeping reference.

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Employee Files

Question:

I’m a new HR assistant in a company that hasn’t had an HR presence before. The secretary previously handled all of the personnel paperwork and the files are a mess. What’s the first thing I should do?

Answer:

Keeping employee files “clean” are a very important part of human resources. If you have inherited a mess we would recommend taking the time to review each file for completeness as well as ensuring all of the paperwork is in its appropriate place. The following is a guideline of documents that should be included in employment files as well as “where” they should be housed.

In general, a minimum of 2 files should be maintained for each employee. However, that number may increase based upon the number of actions for an employee. You will probably have an Employee Main File and an Employee Medical/Benefits File (i.e., benefit enrollment forms, profit sharing, 401(k), insurance claim forms, COBRA letter). In addition, separate files should be maintained for such documents as: Child Support Orders, EEO charges, Exit Interview, I-9 Forms, litigation documents, Workers Compensation claims, and Affirmative Action; however, a separate file isn’tnecessary for each employee.

Review your files and ensure the information is stored properly toavoid compliance concerns in the future.

What can go into the main personnel file?

• Application
• Offer Letter
• W-4 Form
• Nondisclosure Agreement
• Orientation and/or Termination Checklists
• Performance Appraisals
• Salary Information
• Official Performance Information (i.e., letters or memos)
• Payroll Data
• Tuition Reimbursement Information
• Copies of Credentials (i.e., certificates, license, diplomas)
• Sign off sheets / Policy acknowledgement forms
• Training information

What cannot go into a personnel file?

• Information related to medical, injuries, and disabilities
• Information disclosing affirmative action identification
• Applications that include non-job related information
• I-9 Form
• Subjective documentation and/or performance appraisals

What records can/cannot be kept together?
Typically, the following files are all kept separate:

• Employee File
• Employee Medical File
• Child Support
• EEO Charges
• Exit Interview Form
• I-9 Form
• Litigation Documents
• Workers Compensation Claims
• Affirmative Action

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing. Keeping some documents accessible, but confidential is extremely important. Strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention. Visit our HR Store page to learn more about this handy tool.

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Destroying Old Records

Question:

We are thinning out our HR records. We have employee folders that are 50 years and older. When can I destroy these and is there anything I should retain for future reference?

Answer:

Before getting specific, we want to share a few basics to be sure you are on track.

First of all, you will need different employee files for each employee. We had a previous question that addressed this need.  Be sure to check it out to learn how to set up your employee folders.

Secondly, many companies are switching to electronic recordkeeping. We have an article on our website that discusses this option in  more detail, “Go Green:  Electronic Communications and Recordkeeping” – https://strategichrinc.com/article/go-green-electronic-communication-and-recordkeeping/. Electronic recordkeeping makes storage and retrieval much more effective.

Now for the specifics…

According to national requirements (Fair Labor Standards Act), companies are required to maintain their personnel records for three years after an employee is terminated. However, each state can have different requirements that are more stringent. In Ohio, this requirement is now six years. Depending on the states that you do business in, you may find this file retention requirement varies. Be sure to research both state and national regulations for all the locations you may have for your company and follow the more stringent guidelines.

In addition, documents related to each of the following have additional guidelines to keep in mind. Always err on the side of retaining an item longer:

  • Payroll/Employee Records (5 years)
  • Applications and any information related to internal or external placement or displacement (1 year)
  • Where a charge or lawsuit is filed, all relevant information should be kept until the “final disposition”
  • Contracts (3 years)
  • ERISA information (6 years)
  • Polygraph tests (3 years)
  • Affirmative Action documentation (4 years)
  • FMLA records (3 years)
  • Tax Information (4 years from date tax is due or paid)
  • I-9 Forms (3 years after date of hire or 1 year after date of termination, whichever is later)
  • OSHA information (5 years)
  • Disability related information (2 years)
  • Adverse impact found (2 years after eliminated)
  • Benefit related (6 years)
  • Workers Comp Claims for illness or injury  (30 years)

As you can see recordkeeping continues to  play a very important role in the function of an HR department.

Recordkeeping is full of “if this, then that” situations. You will often hear us say “it depends” when asking about personnel files and recordkeeping. Keep the guesswork out of keeping your files in order and up-to-date. Strategic HR, inc. has a handy desktop reference ready to guide you on the documents you can keep together in an employee file and how long you need to keep them. Visit our HR Store to request a copy of our Recordkeeping reference.

 

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Keeping Resumes and Applications

Question:

We’re doing some end-of-year filing and record cleanup. How long do we need to keep resumes and applications?

Answer:

There are many Federal Acts that require employers to retain employment applications and related documents, but not a single ruling that specifically addresses it. As an employer you must look at the federal laws from which you are covered as well as any contractual requirements you may have (i.e. union contracts). The following lists some of the Acts and their record retention requirements.

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Employers are required to keep various employment records, including job applications, for one year from the date the application was received.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act – Employers are required to retain employment applications for one year. There is language, however, that indicates if you are aware the applicant is over age 40, you should retain it for as long as two years.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act – Employers are required to retain job applications and documents for one year. There is some variation based upon whether or not the applications are solicited or unsolicited, but the maximum retention is two years.
  • Executive Order 11246 – If you are a government contractor and have less than 150 employees or a contract of at least $150,000 you must retain these records for one year. If you have at least 150 employees or more and a contract of $150,000, you are required to keep the records for two years. If you have a resume on hand, from a previous search, and decide to consider it for a new position months down the road, you will need to keep that resume or application for the time required based on the last viewing of the document (i.e. 1-2 years past the fill date of the second position).

A word of caution – if there is a discrimination charge or unlawful employment practice brought against the employer, employment applications must be retained until the matter reaches a resolution. This can get tricky if someone claims discrimination because they did not get a promotion; the employer is then required to keep all the applications received for that promotion until the claim is resolved. With a lengthy lawsuit and litigation, this could be an extended amount of time.

Generally speaking, it is a safe bet to keep resumes and applications of non-hired individuals for two years following the date the hiring process is completed for a position (i.e. from the time the new employee starts working). Remember to consult State laws in addition to Federal regulations when determining how long to keep employee records.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to clean out old records and keep handy the pertinent ones. Keeping track of all the paper is extremely challenging. Strategic HR, inc. understands your frustration and has many tried-and-trusted tips on recordkeeping – including a handy desktop Recordkeeping reference to help you decide what to keep and what to pitch (located in our HR Store). Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about getting your employment records in order.

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Electronic Form I-9

Question:

Our office is moving to a paperless filing system. Can I keep my I-9 forms electronically or do they have to be on paper?

Answer:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (and more specifically U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) does allow employers to choose the method of storing I-9 forms.  They can use a paper system, microfiche, an electronic system or a combination of both.  The USCIS does provide guidance on what is required of the electronic storage of I-9 forms. According to the Department, an electronic storage system must do the following:

  • Include controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy and reliability of the electronic storage system.
  • Include controls to detect and prevent the unauthorized or accidental creation of, addition to, alteration of, deletion of or deterioration of an electronically stored Form I-9, including the electronic signature, if used.
  • Include controls to ensure an audit trail so that any alteration or change to the form since its creation is electronically stored and can be accessed by an appropriate government agency inspecting the forms.
  • Include an inspection and quality assurance program that regularly evaluates the electronic generation or storage system, and includes periodic checks of electronically stored Forms I-9, including the electronic signature, if used.
  • Include a detailed index of all data so that any particular record can be accessed immediately.
  • Produce a high degree of legibility and readability when displayed on a video display terminal or reproduced on paper.

As long as these requirements are met you are on your way to being completely paperless.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to clean out old records and keep handy the pertinent ones. Keeping track of all that paper is extremely challenging. Strategic HR, inc. understands your frustration and has many tried-and-trusted solutions for getting your recordkeeping in order. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about getting your employment records in order.

 

 

 

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Keeping I-9 Forms

Question:

After hearing you speak about appropriate recordkeeping, I’m taking your advice and purging some of my employment records. How long should I keep an I-9 form?

Answer:

An employer must keep the original Form I-9 for all current employees for as long as they are employed. After an employee terminates employment the original Form I-9 must be on file for EITHER: three (3) years after the date of hire or one (1) year after employment is terminated – WHICHEVER IS LATER. So, for example, if an employee is terminated after only 6 weeks on the job, their Form I-9 must be kept for three years after the hire date. If an employee terminates after 5 years of employment, their Form I-9 must be kept for one year after the date of termination.

Here’s an easy way to calculate the date of retention:

  • Date A: Add 3 years to the date of hire
  • Date B: Add 1 year to the date of termination

Using the above calculations, use the later of the two dates as the retention date.

Recordkeeping is full of “if this, then that” situations. You will often hear us say “it depends” when asking about personnel files and recordkeeping. Keep the guesswork out of keeping your files in order and up-to-date. Strategic HR, inc. has a handy desktop reference ready to guide you on the documents you can keep together in an employee file and how long you need to keep them. Visit our HR Store to request a copy of our Recordkeeping reference.

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Documenting Conduct and Performance

Question:

I am looking for direction with effective documentation on employee conduct and performance. What should we write down?

Answer:

In deciding what to capture in writing employee documentation, it’s important to consider the purpose of the documentation and its use in the performance appraisal process. This helps guide your note taking. The performance appraisal process has several purposes:

  • Appraise performance relative to duties
  • Identify strengths and opportunities for development
  • Provide recognition
  • Open lines of communication
  • Provide a history of work performance
  • Discuss methods to improve employee performance

It’s a good idea to use “significant incident reports” to capture employee behaviors that relate to performance as they happen. These are typically one-page memos that record the either very positive or negative situation. At the time of the incident you should have a discussion with the employee to talk about the situation (positive or negative), then hold the notes in the supervisor’s file until it’s time to prepare for the performance evaluation. The significant incident report contains the employee’s name, title/position, a brief description of the situation, who was involved, and the impact on the department, organization, customers (or all of the above). The incident could be one you as a supervisor observe, or comments from a customer, peer, or other manager. These reports are then used to help complete the performance appraisal and resulting discussions.

If your company has a progressive discipline policy that includes a written communication, you would also want to write down any incidents that require written documentation according to the policy. Using a significant incident report is a good and consistent method for documenting verbal counseling that takes place as a result of a disciplinary action.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing. Keeping some documents accessible, but confidential is extremely important. Strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention. Visit our HR Store page to learn more about this handy tool.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center employee relations is emphasized

Requiring Employee Contact Information

Question:

Can my company require our employees to provide their personal cell phone number and home email address?

Answer:

A  follow up question to you might be, why do you need them? If it is for emergency notifications, that is one thing, however if it is for working purposes, you would be better off providing them with a work email or cell phone. With email, it is best to make sure that any work related communications are managed in the secure environment of your company server. Also keep in mind that email or phone calls made outside of work hours to non-exempt employees count as “time worked”. Make sure you are tracking that time and paying overtime accordingly.

Today’s employees are on a constant search for work/life balance; it is a key factor in choosing an employer and, sometimes, the decision to leave. As a job requirement you could most likely require them to provide you with two ways to reach them and then suggest they provide a cell phone number and home email address; but requiring it might be a stretch. As long as they give you a way to reach them during off hours that should suffice.

Recordkeeping is one of the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important. Keeping documentation of corrective actions, counseling sessions and performance appraisals are vital to making sure you are being consistent with your disciplinary and performance policies. Strategic HR, inc. has a great online tool that’s affordable, easily downloaded and ready for immediate use. Our Coaching and Counseling toolkit has sample policies and forms to help you with your Counseling needs. Visit our Communications page to learn more.

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What to Include in a Written Warning

Question:

I was told that I should give a written warning to a problem employee to create documentation. What should the written warning include?

Answer:

First make sure you are following your established disciplinary policy and procedures. Do you have any steps prior to a written warning that need to take place (i.e. counseling, verbal warning, etc.)? Assuming that giving a written warning follows your typical disciplinary procedures, you’ll want to create a record of discussion and document the following:

  • Employee and Supervisor’s Name
  • Date of the written warning / disciplinary action
  • Description of the performance issue being addressed
  • Corrective action required by employee
  • Resources available to assist the employee (if applicable)
  • Consequences of not improving performance
  • Date for follow up discussion
  • Acknowledgement of the warning by employee and supervisor

A copy of this document should be placed in the employee file. Be sure to follow up on the documented date to follow through with the disciplinary procedure.

Recordkeeping is one of the more mundane tasks associated with Human Resources, but is extremely important. Keeping documentation of corrective actions, counseling sessions and performance appraisals are vital to making sure you are being consistent with your disciplinary and performance policies. Strategic HR, inc. has a great online tool that’s affordable, easily downloaded and ready for immediate use. Our Coaching and Counseling toolkit has sample policies and forms to help you with your Counseling needs. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more.

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Filing Employee Paperwork

Question:

I am new to HR and there is currently no system for filing employee paperwork. Where do I even start to go through the piles?

Answer:

Once you get organized, employee documentation can actually be quite easy to maintain. To start, you will need a minimum of three files: a personnel file, a confidential medical file and a confidential, non-medical file. It is important to separate medical information from non-medical information due to HIPAA privacy requirements. Using the three folder method, each should include:

Personnel File: Applications for employment, resumes, certifications, most pre-employment and new hire paperwork (see below for exceptions), payroll information, attendance records, discipline documentation, performance evaluations, training needs, and documents relating to employment decisions (promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff, termination).

Confidential Medical File: Benefits enrollment paperwork, doctor’s excuses, FMLA or any other type of medical leave documents, disability documentation, Workers’ Compensation documents, injury reports, drug and alcohol testing, and any other form containing medical information.

Non-Medical Confidential File: Criminal or Credit Background checks, garnishments, EEO related charges or investigation documents, litigation documents, and 401k enrollment forms.

Some employers may also choose to have a separate folder for compensation or performance related matters. I-9 forms should be kept together for all employees in one binder.

Recordkeeping can be a daunting task, especially once you get behind in filing. Keeping some documents accessible, but confidential is extremely important. Strategic HR, inc. has an easy to use desktop reference to assist with managing employee documentation and record retention. Visit our HR Store page to learn more about this handy tool.