As we begin to look to the end of the year, many companies take the opportunity to evaluate the previous year, look at policies and procedures, and insure that things are up to date for 2014.  When it comes to human resources and protecting the company in the instance of a lawsuit, one of the things that is needed is to ensure that complete and accurate personnel records are and have been maintained.  If your company currently is lax about this practice, it would be of great benefit to make sure all personnel files are up to date and filled with all documentation that is necessary.  Undoubtedly an audit of employee files might be called for, and when it is, it’s better to have things all lined up rather than scrambling to figure out all the documentation that is needed.

One thing to remember is that confidential items should be kept separate from the main personnel files.  This should include items like employees background check, insurance records, workers compensation claims, eligibility to work documents (Form I-9 and supporting documentation) and applicant flow data.  These are items that are important to keep on file, particularly when being audited to show that the proper steps were taken to vet your candidates at the time of hire.

In every employees main personnel file, it is important to have hiring documents , status change forms, signed agreements, attendance records, performance evaluations and documents outlining any discipline taken, acknowledgements signed by the employee, payroll records, benefits information and any sort of certifications.  It is important to have a complete record from the point of hiring, to the period of employment, as well as maintaining the file once the employee has left the company according to applicable laws and company policies.

As we head into 2014, in a time when it seems the potential for litigation against employers continues to rise, it is important to make sure that things are in order and that all necessary documentation is on file.  This can save a lot of headaches down the road should action be taken against your company for reasons to do with a person’s employment experience.

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