Employee information such as Social Security numbers, confidential health information, birth dates, even marital status is all information that should be protected.

Keeping comprehensive and thorough records is an important aspect of any business and knowing how to store and manage employee files is critical.

The following items are recommended to be included in an employee file (if applicable):

  • Application or resume
  • Offer letter
  • Confidentiality/ non-compete agreement
  • Handbook acknowledgement
  • Background check consent form
  • Performance records
  • Training records
  • Emergency Contact Information

Since Managers often have access to such files it is important to make sure that all protected information be removed or kept in a separate locked filing cabinet.  Protected information could be color coded so that it may help to serve as a reminder that the information contained is confidential and access to the files limited.

Examples of protected information include:

  • Paperwork from a leave such as the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Return to work letters from doctors, or any doctor’s letters
  • Benefit enrollment papers
  • Workers’ compensation information (with the exception of Functional Abilities Forms)
  • Harassment allegations and findings of legal investigations

All employee files should be kept for a period of seven years.

Many employers are guilty of having incomplete files and it is advised that they should be audited periodically to ensure all pertinent information is on file and accurate.

Limiting access to files is very important and if not enforced, could open the door for legal action against the company.    Information regarding an employee’s health should be accessible only to those who manage the files.

Mismanagement of confidential information can be a huge liability for any business. Time spent ensuring employee files are properly handled and stored is time well spent.