Employment Record Retention: What Are the Federal Laws?

An important question to ask yourself when dealing with employment (and really any business-related paperwork) is how long are you required to keep the records? Unfortunately when it comes to record retention, there is a myriad of answers and a multitude of regulations for different scenarios. We’ve summarized the most common federal laws that relate to retention of employee records.

Major Federal Legislation Regarding Employment Record Retention

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Pertains to:

  • Submitted resumes.
  • Submitted job applications.
  • Job advertisements and postings.
  • Your team’s interview notes.
  • Your business’ pre-employment screening tests and results.
  • Notes about selection, hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, or termination.
  • Employee performance reviews as well as their training records.
  • Your payroll records, including both pay and benefits.
  • Any reasonable accommodation requests your employees have made.

Retention period: One year after creating the record or taking the personnel action, whichever comes last. Also, any records required under Title VII must be maintained for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Pertains to:

  • Employee personal data, such as full name, home address, birth date, gender and occupation.
  • How many hours worked for the day and week.
  • Employee pay rates.
  • Normal wages.
  • Overtime wages.
  • Total earnings per pay period.
  • Any pay changes.
  • Any fringe benefits.

Retention period: Generally, these records should be kept for 3 years. Employee time sheets must be kept for at least two years.

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) – Pertains To:

  • All payroll documents (including those required under the FLSA.)
  • Individual job descriptions.
  • Individual performance evaluations.
  • Written explanations of any wage differentials between employees of different genders.
  • Written descriptions of any merit, incentive and seniority systems.

Retention Period: Three years.

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) – Pertains to:

  • Form I-9.
  • Copies of legal work status documentation, such as permanent resident card or U.S. passport.

Retention period: Three years after the employee is hired or one year after they are terminated, whichever comes last.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) – Pertains to:

  • Your company’s Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) for retirement and health plans.
  • Any information used to support SPDs.
  • Any notices of benefit plan changes.
  • Any notice of other reportable events, such as reduction of benefits.
  • Your company’s annual benefits reports.

Retention period: Generally, six years. Records used to determine eligibility for benefits must be kept indefinitely.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Pertains to:

  • Any and all payroll and employee information, including employee’s name, home address, job, payrate, daily and weekly hours worked, and total compensation.
  • Records of the dates eligible employees took FMLA leave and how many hours they took.
  • Copies of employee FMLA leave notices.
  • Notifications of employer FMLA policies and practices.
  • Any records of FMLA leave disputes between the employer and employee.

Retention period: Three years.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employment Tax Regulations – Pertains to:

  • Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) records. FICA covers both employee and employer Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) records. FUTA is a tax on employers only.

Retention period: Four years after the tax due date or payment date, whichever comes last.

Other Federal Laws Regarding Employment Record Retention:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).
  • Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Be sure to investigate these individually to be sure you remain in compliance!

Start an Employment Record Retention Plan – and Use Our Technology to Handle It!

To Capital Payroll Partners clients… did you know you can store digital employee documents directly in Employer on the Go? If not, ask us how so you can take full advantage of your payroll software with Capital Payroll. Not on Employer on the Go? Let us know if and when you want access… it’s no additional charge to our partners!

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