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Employee File Checklist

    Checklist

    Separate files

    • Hiring records

      • These records should include any job requisitions and job postings, interview notes, reference checks, and other hiring records such as applications and resumes if they contain protected information.

      • These records can be accessed by the hiring manager as well as by HR, so they should not include any information irrelevant to the job or to the hiring decision, such as protected class information, arrest records and Social Security numbers (SSNs).

    • Drug tests and background checks/credit checks

      • These records should be kept separately from any records a supervisor has access to.

      • The hiring manager should be told whether an applicant or employee passes these tests, but he or she should not be provided a copy of the record. Reports often include irrelevant or protected information.

      • Once an employee is hired, these reports should be placed in the employee’s medical/confidential file or kept in a separate file altogether.

    • I-9 files

      • Form I-9 and any relevant documentation should never be left in an employee’s personnel file.

      • Access is highly restricted. Keep in a locked cabinet or secured electronic database. Hiring managers should not have access.

      • See SHRM’s I-9 Audit Checklist for more details.
         

    • EEO records

      • Any equal employment opportunity (EEO) data collection should be maintained separately from personnel files and used only for reporting purposes such as for an affirmative action program (AAP), the Form EEO-1 and internal diversity tracking.

      • Do not allow EEO records to be attached or kept with other hiring or employment records.

      • Access is highly restricted. Keep in a locked cabinet or secured electronic database. Hiring managers should not have access.

    • Payroll files

      • Contents will include W-4s, state withholding forms, garnishments, pay information, wage deduction acknowledgements and time-keeping records.

      • Investigation files

        • For harassment and other grievance complaints, maintain the files separately from any personnel file because they usually contain information affecting more than one person and include witness accounts.

        • Only relevant disciplinary action or individualized memos/letters should go in an employee’s personnel file.

        • Access is highly restricted. Keep in a locked cabinet. Hiring managers should not have access.

    • Manager desk files

      • There is debate over whether manager desk files should be permitted. It may depend on how closely the personnel files are maintained. Often, when personnel records are kept at headquarters, managers at other locations may find it helpful to maintain copies of records in the personnel file.

      • If manager desk files are maintained, make sure they are locked in a cabinet or secured if electronic.

      • Ensure all original documents are placed in the personnel file and managers keep only copies.

      • Managers should be trained on proper documentation procedures to ensure that notes in their files are not discriminatory or illegal.

      • Be aware that manager desk files are discoverable in the event of a lawsuit.

    SHRM Sample Employee File Audit