The dead time between Christmas and New Year is almost here. You have a lot of choices in ways to spend the time. But I bet a lot of you are going to be spending some of that slow time cleaning out files, throwing out old calendars and generally getting ready for the new year.
As a small business owner, you may be the file clerk and the HR guru as well. In that case cleaning out the files could mean getting rid of old employee files. You know, those folks who were here two weeks and never showed again - or the long time employee who retired in February of last year.
As with everything else in the business world, what records you keep, how long they’re kept and where you keep them is to some extent controlled by the government. The Department of Labor has a handy one page list you can refer to at www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs21.htm giving you one year, two year, and three year requirements. Be sure you keep your records stored in a secure, dry place. Nothing is worse than trying to recreate old files because the originals are now soaking wet and illegible. Also consider keeping electronic files - just make sure they are in a secure location.
Another consideration for when you are working on the personnel files: where are the I-9’s filed and are they correct? You should keep the I-9 and its documentation for each employee in the personnel area, but in a separate file folder. You should keep one folder for current employee I-9's and one folder for previous employee I-9's. Your W-2's should also be kept in a separate folder.
Different organizations need to see different parts of a personnel file, so if your files are being inspected by ICE, they only need to see the I-9 (and usually will only ask for the current employees) and if your files are being inspected by the IRS, they don’t need to see the I-9! The Texas Workforce Commission has a great article about the I-9 and its supporting documentation requirements at: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/i_9_requirements_lists.html
If you have any questions about your personnel files, we will be glad to help!