Your document retention policy is sometime mandated by federal guidelines

by on July 8, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Document retention policy under federal law

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act’s enforcement scheme is modeled after the FLSA. Pretty much anything that you produce under the FMLA needs to be kept for three years in your document retention policy.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is going to be very similar to both the FLSA and Title VII. Your document retention policy should keep related personnel records for one year from the date of the action.
  • Payroll records, just like the FLSA need to be kept for three years. Benefit plans, seniority systems need to be kept for the duration of the plan plus one year. And then obviously, any document related to an enforcement action need to kept per your document retention policy
  • The Equal Pay Act, just like the Fair Labor Standards Act — these documents relating to pretty much any information that would indicate rates of pay between workers of various genders need to be kept for at least three years.
  • The Affirmative Action Plans, for those of you on the call that have federal contracts — typically those need to be kept for two years. And the Affirmative Action Plans need to be updated annually. If you have less than 150 employees or a federal contract less than $150,000, then only factor in one year under your document retention policy
  • You need to keep I-9 forms for the longer of three years or one year after termination. And the way that works out is if you got someone that works for one year, for example, you need to keep that I-9 form for three years because that’s the longer period.
  • However, if you have an employee that was with you for four years, you’re going to have to keep that I-9 form until one year after their termination, which is basically for five years. So, that’s how that rule works.

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OSEA forms and your document retention policy
Your OSHA forms -the Form 300, Form 300A, and Form 301-need to be kept for five years after the end of the calendar year in which they relate.

Records of medical exams under OSHA to monitor exposure to hazardous materials need to be kept to the end of the employment plus 30 years. That’s a very long period of time. Typically, there is no really well-defined retention period for medical records.

Many times document retention policy needs to use employment plus 30 years is a belt and suspenders fall back that we use if someone is asking how long they need to keep medical records. Unfortunately, that’s a very long period of time. But as far as the federal standards go, sometimes that’s the best guidance we have.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “Personnel Document Retention: What to Keep, How to Keep it & Why it Matters” by Matthew Gilley Esq.

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