It is important that all employers be aware of the various federal and state laws requiring employers to maintain certain records regarding their employees.   In the event of a lawsuit, an employer may be required to produce these records.   Failure to do so can lead to fines and other adverse actions.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to maintain all personnel or employment records made or kept by the employer.  These include application forms, and records pertaining to hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination, rates of pay or other terms of compensation, and selection for training or apprenticeship.  Employers must also keep all records relevant to a charge of discrimination or action brought by the Attorney General against the employer.  Employers with 100 or more employees must keep a copy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision’s (EEOC’s) form EEO-1, also called the Employer Information Report.  Other records, relating to apprenticeship programs, must also be kept.

The personnel and employment records listed above must be kept for one year, either from the date the record was made, or from the date the personnel action was taken, whichever is later.  Records relevant to a charge of discrimination or action brought by the Attorney General must be kept until the final disposition of the charge or action.

Other federal laws have their own record retention requirements.  For example, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), employers must keep all payroll or other records containing each employee’s name, address, date of birth, occupation, rate of pay, and compensation earned per week.  The ADEA also requires employers to keep copies of employee benefit plans, as well as written seniority or merit rating systems.  Even if the plan or system is not in writing, a summary memorandum must be kept.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to keep basic records containing employee information, payroll records, individual contracts or collective bargaining agreements, applicable certificates and notices of wage-hour administrator, sales and purchase records.

Employers must also maintain basic employment and earnings records, wage rate tables, work-time schedules, records of additions to or deductions from wages paid, and documentation of basis for payment of any wage differential to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment.  Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers must keep dates and hours of FMLA leave taken by employees.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a log and summary of occupational injuries and illnesses, briefly describing recordable cases of injury and illness, extent and outcome of each incident, and summary totals for calendar year, as well as a supplemental record containing more detailed information for each occurrence of injury or illness.
This is not a comprehensive list of record retention requirements.  These federal laws, and other state laws, include more requirements than those listed here.  You should consult an attorney who specializes in employment law to be sure you are maintaining proper record-keeping procedures.

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