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Retention of Employee Records, Paper vs. Electronic, and The Six File Types Most Employers Don't Know About

How Long Should Employee Files Be Kept?


First, let’s review the types of employee records and how they are to be stored.


Paper vs. Electronic. To ensure security, employee files can be stored in an electronic format on a secure network or computer. However, it's important to note that the Immigration Federal I9 documents can be electronic but is a good practice to be kept in paper form. All other documents stored electronically need to be able to be reproduced.

Employee File Types:


  1. Personnel File

  2. Benefits File

  3. Payroll File

  4. Confidential Medical File

  5. OSHA Safety File

  6. Immigration Federal I-9 File


For a full list of the documents that should be stored in each file type, Contact Me HERE!


Why is it Important to Have Six Separate Files for Each Employee?


In order to protect employee privacy, only the personnel file should be accessible to supervisors or managers seeking information on an employee's work performance. All other files should not be accessible to anyone other than the owner of the company or who has authorized access. Anyone seeking to review employee files should follow policies related to accessing personnel records. 


Each employee should have their own six file types. Confidential documents for multiple employees should never be mixed together in a shared file. Some documents and reports may contain sensitive information, such as an employee's wage or a medical diagnosis, so it is important to handle them with care. It is crucial to be cautious when filing employee paperwork and to double-check that all documents are stored separately. In the event of an audit, it is essential that the files are separate so that the auditor only has access to the relevant paperwork.


When storing employee files, they should be kept with other confidential documentation in a secure location. Electronic files are a good option for added security.


Schedule an HR Audit with me and let's get your personnel files in order!


How Long Should Employers Keep Employee Records?


Oregon Employers are Mandated by Law to Maintain Employee Records According to the Following:


Personnel Records

Employee documentation, including job applications, resumes, interview notes, reference checks, performance evaluations, and disciplinary and promotion records, should be kept for a period of 60 days.

Payroll Records

According to federal law, payroll records are required to be maintained for 3 years, while Oregon employers have 2 years. Keep in mind, that wage claims have a statute of limitations of 6 years. However, in Oregon, a wage claim may be filed within 6 years from the intended payment date. Therefore, it is advisable for employers in Oregon to retain payroll records for a minimum of 7 years.


Family and Medical Leave Documents

All documents related to family leave or medical leave should be maintained for a period of 3 years after the leave concludes.

Immigration Federal I-9 forms

It is recommended to keep the original signed paper forms for 3 years starting from the date of hire or for 1 year after termination, whichever period is longer.


OSHA forms 300, 300A, and 301

OSHA requires Oregon employers to keep Injury and Illness records for 5 years. Keep any records related to pending or threatened litigation until the charges are fully resolved, even if it's been 5 years since the covered period.


All other records

Generally should be retained for at least 2 years, except where indicated.


In the Event of Legal Proceedings, it's Important to Maintain Proper Records, Just in Case They are Needed.


Discrimination Claims

A complaint can be filed for alleged unlawful employment practice within 1 year of the incident's occurrence.


Civil Rights Claims

In civil rights cases, the statute of limitations typically expires after 1 year from the date of the alleged harm.


Maintaining accurate records is essential in protecting yourself against wage and hour claims and civil rights complaints, which can be filed even after the record-keeping requirement has passed. If storage limitations are a concern, a digital copy can be just as effective as the original, as long as it can be authenticated or reproduced. Creating good records from the outset is crucial, as it is a sound management practice that can safeguard employers from claims and assist them in defending those claims if and when they arise.

For More Information About RETAINING EMPLOYEE RECORDS and

How To Contact Me, Click Here!

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