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Essential Employee Files

The beginning of the year is a great time to audit your employee files to ensure they are complete and organized. There are five essential files employers should have for employees. All files should be clearly labeled with the employee's first and last name.

Basic personal file: This is where you'll store information related to the worker's employment, such as their signed job acceptance letter, job description, and signed handbook acknowledgement form. Documents related to continued employment, such as performance evaluations, will also be kept here.

Form I-9 file: The I-9 must be kept on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after employment is terminated, whichever date is later. Employers must be able to provide the forms upon request and may have as little as three days notice of an inspection. For these reasons, it is recommend all I-9s be kept together in a master file. All U.S. employers are subject to employment eligibility audits and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has indicated they will increase worksite investigations by four to five times in 2018.

Payroll file: This file will contain all documents necessary for processing payroll, including the W-4, timesheets, time off requests, garnishments, and pay increases.

Medical/Benefits file: If you offer health insurance, every eligible employee should have a file for storing medical related documents such as insurance enrollment forms, FMLA requests, and COBRA notification forms when employment has ended. This file should be kept separate from all other personnel files to maintain compliance with privacy laws and the American's with Disabilities Act. Only the office administrator or HR department should have access to these files.

On the job injury file: Every employee injured on the job should have one of these files. It will contain workers' compensation claim records, injury reports, and other documents related to the injury, such as a doctor's work release. If you are subject to OSHA reporting, it is recommend you keep a separate file for each injury.

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