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Securing your HR documentation is a must!

Of all your files, these are probably the most sensitive, and they deserve the highest level of encryption and protection you can offer. Issues like identity theft and HIPPA create a huge liability to your company. It’s even worse if you have union employees. That means that your employee files need to kept in a locked cabinet, probably in a locked room, with access limited to a handful of employees. If your company has been around for a few years, your employee files alone can take up four or five file cabinets.  If you are a large, multi-generational company with multiple dealerships, you could have thousands of files. If you have a centralized HR function, the physical file may be stored miles away from the manager who wants to look at it.

How long should you keep employee documents?

Ask your attorney:  The right length of time to keep your employee files is… forever.  There’s no telling when you might need an employee file dating back a decade or longer.If you ever get sued – and which of us hasn’t – for something like discrimination, or unlawful termination, things get worse.  In that case, you either make copies of sensitive documents – which increases your risk – or the file ends up somewhere on a manager’s desk, where it is unavailable to everyone else. And what if a page or two goes astray?When all is said and done, all the documents will have to return to where they belong (and hopefully nothing was misplaced). The time to refile and pull HR documents will take your employees a while when they could be do other things.

How you should file your HR documents digitally

We recommend that you strictly control who can access scanned HR files.  It should only be payroll & HR personnel, and their supervisor. Be sure to immediately delete access to employee files when an employee is transferred to another department, or is fired. Don’t give direct access to other department heads. This will prevent snooping. Maintain two files for each employee: one file is for items that can be used for managing the employee – a resume, performance reviews, and write-ups.  This file would be made available to a department manager. The second file is for items that should never be used to make decisions about managing the employee – things like worker’s compensation claims, requests for a medical leave,  selection of medical benefits, or a harassment or discrimination complaint that the employee filed about another employee. Never delete employees when an employee quits. We recommend tagging files with the employee’s Employee number, Last name, and Last four of the employee’s social security number.

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