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Employee Records: What to Keep and for How Long

If you have personnel, you have paperwork. Knowing what records to keep and for how long are the keys to staying compliant and clutter-free. Under a handful of federal laws, you must retain certain records for a designated period of time. Here’s a general overview:
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  • How long do I need to keep hiring records like resumes and job applications?

    Hiring Records

    What to keep:

    • Resumes
    • Job applications
    • Hiring tests

    How long:

    • 1 year for solicited resumes (no requirement for unsolicited resumes)
    • 1 year for job applications (including those for seasonal and temporary workers)
    • 1 year for hiring tests
  • How long do I need to keep payroll records?

    Time and Pay Records

    What to keep:

    • Payroll documentation, including wage and promotion information and timekeeping records W-4s

    How long:

    • 3 years under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — or 4 years under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) — for most payroll documentation
    • 4 years after taxes due or paid for W-4s
  • How long do I need to keep benefits and medical records?

    Medical/Benefits Records

    What to keep:

    • Physical exam results
    • Drug test results
    • Benefit plans
    • FMLA documentation
    • Request for reasonable accommodation

    How long:

    • 1 year after action taken for physical exams
    • Most recent year report on file for drug tests
    • 1 year after termination of plan for benefits
    • 3 years after leave ends for FMLA documentation
    • 1 year after action taken or document created, whichever is later, for reasonable accommodation requests
  • How long do I need to keep i-9 forms?

    I-9/Employment Verification Records

    What to keep:

    • Form I-9
    • Copies of acceptable verification documents (if kept for every employee consistently)

    How long:

    • 3 years from the date of hire or 1 year after termination (whichever is later)
  • How long do I need to keep performance reviews and termination records?

    Performance Reviews and Discipline/Termination Records

    What to keep:

    • Performance reviews
    • Termination records

    How long:

    • 2 years for performance reviews
    • 1 year from termination date for termination records
  • What are the federal laws for employee records?

    Get More Guidance

    For more information on the specific types of records you should maintain — along with retention timeframes — download the ComplyRight tipsheet, Employee Record Retention Guidelines for Employers and Managers


Ashley Kaplan, Esq.
Presented by: Ashley Kaplan, Esq.,
Senior Employment Law Attorney
This insightful webinar will summarize the mandatory posting changes for 2017 and what they mean for your business.
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