Paperwork. To the some, the thought of pure organization and everything in its place is bliss. To others, it runs parallel to enjoyment found in trimming your toenails or cleaning out the eaves troughs. Administration is a necessary part of most HR functions in order to maintain records, be in legal compliance, and have effective workforce management. The digitization of this is underway in many organizations. If you are not one of them, don’t be left wondering what needs to be kept and what is not a filing priority.
What Belongs in Employee Files?
My personal habit is to have separate employee files (colour coded if you are feeling extra fancy) to keep legal and compliance paperwork separated from other paperwork. This not only eases the burden of finding random items but also allows easy recognition of the employee’s legal file, which they have a right to request to review or have a copy given to them.
I'm going to break down the different types of files you should have for each employee as the need arises. I outline four of them, but each organization will have different preferences and requirements for documentation depending on their industry that may produce the need for additional files.
What goes in an Employee Legal File:
The Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) outlines information that organizations should securely store as part of their employee record keeping:
1. Legal File
Employee’s name, date of birth and address. It is important to keep this information secure and on hand for at least 3 years after the employee has stopped working for the employer.
Leave of absence. All documentation and certificates must be kept on file. Any documents related to an employee’s pregnancy, parental, critical illness, or organ donor, reservist, crime-related child death or disappearance, personal emergency, family caregiver or family medical leave must be kept on record for 3 years after the day the leave expires.
*I often recommend that if any medical documentation is submitted in regards to a leave of absence, it be kept in a separate Medical File. Anything submitted by an employee that provides medical information should be kept private with utmost diligence and only privy to the people who have an absolute need to know it.
Termination Information. This could include record of termination date as well as, termination or severance pay to be included, documents given with final paycheck, resignation statement and layoff records, exit interview form and exit interviewers comment form.
Employment records. This includes their application, resume, transcripts, drivers license (ONLY if applicable for the job), signed employment offer letter, job description, arbitration agreement, relocation transfer records (if applicable) and contracts agreements.
Pre-employment reference and screening such as security clearance status and driver’s abstract if required to keep on file would also be included in the Legal File.
Payroll administration. Any information should be documented and kept in their legal file in regards to rate of pay and other forms of compensation, wage and or salary increases or decrease, compensation history record, tax forms, payrolls authorization form, authorization for payroll deductions actions, attendance records, paid time off, pay advance request form, loan repayment agreements and direct deposit authorization.
Performance Appraisals/Employee Relations Any item that the employee has seen, signed or submitted should go into the Legal File. These items would include performance appraisals/ evaluation forms discussed and viewed by the employee and performance improvement program records reviewed with the employee. Other items that could be included under this heading would be: Letters of recognition, commendations and awards, bonus records, completed employee suggestion forms, complaints from customers/coworkers, written warnings, investigation summaries regarding the employee, and demotions/promotions and the paperwork provided to them in those cases.
Any items that the employee has not viewed or reviewed should certainly be kept, but in an alternate location. These may include complaints from co-workers, investigation forms with confidential information regarding other workers, or performance documentation that was noted but not discussed with the employee.
Emergency contact information, authorization to release private information and request to review personnel file, child support requests, as well as requests for employment verification.
2. Training Files
A separate training file is important not only for ease of reviewing information and what may or may not be up to date, but also in the case that a governing body wants to review the records. Training records often do not have as highly confidential information and thereby having a separate file reduces the risk of an individual’s private information being seen by people who should not be privy to it.
This file could include training program applications and requests, training history records, training expense reimbursement records and skills inventory questionnaire could all be included in a training file. As well, hiring or onboarding documents that illustrate the employee understands and agrees to work safely should be in the training file.
3. Medical File
Any information in regards to medical records, laboratory and diagnostic test records, drug and alcohol tests, any medical records with personally identifiable information or request for medical leave of absence, request for non-medical leave of absence, short or long-term disability documentation, personal accident reports, family medical leave act documents, and any other form or document containing medical information should be kept separate. Again, for reasons of ensuring that only the necessary individuals have access to this highly private information.
Information in regards to benefits could also be stored in this file. Benefit statement acknowledgments, health insurance application form, life insurance form, beneficiary designation forms for life insurance and 401(K) accounts, medical, dental, vision coverage waiver, tuition reimbursement application or payment records and hazardous substance notification and/ or reports.
4. WSIB File
Finally, having a separate file for each employee once an accident occurs is also beneficial in keeping private information available only to those people who have a need to know it. The WSIB file can include the accident report, any information submitted to WSIB, correspondence to and from WSIB, the Company and the worker as well as any notes regarding contact with the worker.
Feeling Excited Yet?
If getting your files in order wasn’t on your new year’s resolution list but you, but you see that value in an organized system, send us a message today. We would love to come in and take this task off your plate!