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Which Employee Documents Do I Need In Case of an HR Audit?

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Which Personnel Files Should I Keep In Case of an HR Audit

When people talk about an HR audit, they are most often referring to an investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) or by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Undergoing this type of audit can be stressful and disturbing for an employer. First and foremost, you want to be sure you have all the required employee documents.

Manage employee records 


Given the amount of employee-related documentation that exists, knowing what to keep can be difficult.

“HR departments generate and receive a significant volume of records and it is important for HR professionals to make a strong business case for implementing a comprehensive records management program,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

While it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to which files you should keep, that leads to overloaded systems and overflowing cabinets.

Generally, HR and legal experts recommend three categories for files: personnel, medical and confidential. Below are examples of what each of these should include:

Personnel file

  • Job offers, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoffs
  • Compensation information
  • Policy acknowledgments
  • Employment agreements (non-compete, confidentiality agreements)
  • Performance evaluations, warnings, disciplinary notices
  • Termination notice

     Medical file

  • Benefit claims
  • Accommodation requests
  • Medical leave records
  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Accident reports
  • Health insurance forms

     Confidential file

  • Pay garnishments (e.g., child support)
  • Litigation documents
  • Workplace investigation records

     Additionally, any I-9 documentation should be kept in a separate file. The I-9 contains protected information about national origin, immigration status and marital status, all of which should be kept confidential.

    TCP is not a law firm so be aware that we’re not offering any legal advice. As you prepare your electronic employee file storage plans, be sure to consult with legal counsel. Ensure you have what’s necessary based on your industry and company-specific needs.


    Store and maintain documents electronically

    This list of documents may seem overwhelming; however, having an electronic storage process and record retention program can help. SHRM reports that many companies are moving away from paper filing systems entirely. With today's electronic document capabilities, there are more options available.

    “Employers often choose to maintain records electronically rather than keeping paper files. This relieves the need for physical storage space for employment records over a span of many years, which may save money and time. Also, electronic storage facilitates easy retrieval of information and allows for efficient access to documents. Organizations may also elect to go paperless as part of a commitment to sustainability.”

    Today, most savvy organizations have moved their document storage and record retention to the cloud. Even with a digital solution, don’t adopt a “save everything” policy. A better approach is to know what's required and store that information in an accessible and secure manner.


    Categorize employee records


    Conduct annual self-audits

    Conducting an annual self-audit helps employers of any size address potential issues rather than having them arise during a DOL investigation. When performing a self-audit of employee files, legal advisors recommend asking questions, including the following:

  • Does the file reflect raises and promotions?
  • Does the file contain all the employee’s performance evaluations, including warnings or disciplinary action?
  • Does the file reflect the employee's current status (e.g., after training or probationary period)?

  • An audit and review of files will help ensure you’re prepared if an outside investigation occurs.


    Reduce risk with integrated document management

    Integrated document management is essential for any outside investigation. These audits can happen at any time, and companies must have required documents readily available for all employees. Federal agencies typically don’t provide much advance notice of an audit. You may get a call only a few days in advance. When the auditor arrives at your location, they expect to have access to requested documents and people for interviews.

    With a secure document management solution in place, our customers have the documentation they need at their fingertips, they avoid stress, legal issues and costly fines. Find out more in our Everything You Need to Know About Workforce Management eBook. It includes a chapter with all the details you need to know about effective document management for your organization.


    Thanks to TCP’s configurable and secure document management solution, it’s easy for you to organize and securely store your employee files. Stay prepared in the event of a compliance audit.

    Want to learn more about cloud-based document management? Don’t miss Chapter 4 of our eBook, “Everything You Need to Know About Workforce Management.”

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