Engaging in spring cleaning in one way or another is a common practice this time of year, and tidying up at work is no less important than it is to clean up at home. For HR professionals and certain “need to know” supervisors, having well organized personnel and confidential files is important in the efficient management of your employees.

It is critical to conduct annual, if not more frequently, reviews of employee personnel, confidential, medical, and other related files (e.g., I-9 and payroll). Not only do well-organized files ensure that items are quickly located, resulting in a more efficient use of time (both for HR and management), but it is vital to regularly audit your files to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations. When conducting an audit of your personnel files, ask yourself the following questions to ensure that these basic guidelines are met:

  • Are files stored and maintained separately, in accordance with relevant state and federal laws? (E.g., are personnel files stored in a locked, secure location, separate from confidential and medical files?)
    • Is access to confidential and medical files limited to HR and managers with a “need to know”?
    • Are documents contained in these files stored in their proper location? (E.g., is leave paperwork stored in the medical file, and are performance and disciplinary documents stored in the personnel file?)
  • Are I-9 forms filled out correctly and stored in a secure location, separate from all other files?
  • Does your organization have policies and procedures in place for document retention and timely destruction of expired documents?

Every organization has their own way of maintaining their employee files. Variations in processes and systems are fine, as long as compliance standards are met and any documentation containing confidential or personal identifying information (e.g., SSNs, financial data, medical information, etc.) is kept separate and secure of standard personnel data.

One of the most important things to make sure of is that whatever procedures you implement for file maintenance are consistent and maintained on a regular basis. Conduct annual, if not more frequent, audits of your employee files and make certain that all employees in charge of ongoing upkeep are aware of best practices and adhere to these policies.

Take advantage of annual workplace spring cleaning to tidy up and review your current systems for safeguarding and organizing your employee files. Contact HRCentral today for assistance with conducting an in-depth employee file audit, or for the creation and implementation of policies and procedures tailored to your organization to ensure files are stored and maintained in compliance with applicable law.