HR ADVISOR


What are the federal laws related to employee record keeping?

Short Answer

There is no short answer, really, when it comes to employee recordkeeping, thanks to numerous federal acts like Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and Family Medical Leave Act, to name just a few.

General Rule

As a general rule, you should keep records for the following years:

  • Personnel records for 7 years after termination

  • Medical and benefits for 6 years after the plan date

  • I-9 forms for 3 years after termination

  • Hiring records for 2 years after hiring date

Exceptions to Retention Periods Listed Above

If you’re involved in any employment-related dispute, especially with a terminated employee, you’ll obviously want to keep all records until the dispute is settled.

You should also keep the medical and benefits records of employees who’ve been exposed to occupational hazards or diseases for 30 years.

State Laws May Differ

States may also have requirements that you’ll have to follow. For example, Missouri state law requires that you keep records for at least 3 years of:

  • Name, address, and occupation

  • Rate of pay, the amount paid each pay period to each employee, the hours worked each day, and each workweek by the employee, and

  • Any goods or services provided by you to the employee in lieu of wages

You might want to search the internet for “[Your state] employee recordkeeping laws” for specific requirements in your state.

Final Tips

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a handy table that lists out exactly what records need to be saved based on the applicable federal law and how long each needs to be saved.

For requirements by state, visit SHRM here for recordkeeping laws.

Helpful Links:

Fact Sheet on Recordkeeping Requirements Under FLSA - DOL.gov – Department of Labor Sheet that details what records are to be kept by employers

Recordkeeping Requirements - EEOC.gov – US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Recordkeeping Requirements for employers

Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records - OSHA.gov – Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Requirements for access to medical records after exposure to hazardous substances

Dawn Nott
Director, HR
Posted on Sept. 11, 2015, 1:41 a.m.
Disclaimer: The answers and information on HR Answers serve as basic guidelines and are for informational purposes only. While our goal is always to provide useful content, we are unable to provide legal, tax, or fact-specific human resources advice and encourage you to speak with your legal counsel, tax advisor, or human resources professional to understand how this information applies to you.