In some circumstances, personnel files can become evidence in a lawsuit brought against your company by an unhappy former employee or employees. As a result, you should always ensure that certain documents are maintained and updated in your employees’ personnel files in order to protect yourself. For example, personnel files should always contain periodic employee evaluations, notices of raises, employee commendations, and any evidence of any disciplinary proceedings that were taken against the employee.

You should never keep documents or entries that do not relate to the employee’s job performance or qualifications. Many employers have gotten into trouble for keeping documents or notes that relate to an employee’s political views, private life, or unsubstantiated criticisms about an employee’s race, gender, or religion.

One good habit is to periodically inspect and clean out all of your employee personnel files. You should set a time to do this at least once a year, perhaps at the same time you are conducting employee performance reviews. When you go through the personnel files, you should be looking to take out any documents that are not necessary.

It’s a good idea to maintain separate personnel files for administrative and confidential information.  Ordinary information related to the employee such as compensation, performance reviews, and disciplinary action should go in the administrative file. Confidential information such as background checks, credit checks, drug screen results, and medical records should be kept confidential.

A link to our full PowerPoint presentation is below.

Personnel Files Presentation