How Long Must Employers Keep Personnel Files?

by Heather Leigh Landon; Updated September 26, 2017
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An employer is responsible for maintaining and keeping employee personnel records for certain periods. The type of personnel record that is being kept on file determines the amount of time it should be kept. All personnel records need to be stored in a secure yet easily accessible area.

One Year

There are some personnel records that need to be kept for at least one year after the employee leaves the company. These include all employment action records, such as promotions, transfers and terminations, and any pre-employment tests, complaint records and legal actions.

Two or Three Years

Any pay-related records, such as earnings, time cards, schedules and pay rates, should be stored for two years after the employee's termination. Actual payroll records should be retained for three years after the employee's discharge. All paperwork related to the Family and Medical Leave Act needs to be kept on file for three years as well.

Five Years

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, any information, including a summary of details, pertaining to an occupational injury or illness should be kept for five years. However, any medical exams that are required by law because of the occupational injury or illness should be kept for 30 years.

About the Author

Heather Leigh Landon has been a writer since 1988 when she started her career as a stringer for "The McHenry Star News." Since then she has worked for newspapers such as "The Woodstock Independent," "The Northwest Herald" and "Press Journal." Landon graduated from William Rainey Harper College with an Associate of Applied Science in journalism.

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