Today we are breaking down personnel files that should be maintained for each and every employee within the organization.
What’s Included in Personnel Files?
The file should be opened once a new hire begins, so to start it should begin with the employee’s resume and employment application. It should also include any new hire paperwork you may have, but at minimum it should reference the employee’s start date (and later termination date), job title and job description, and wage or salary information. From there, as the employee life cycle proceeds, certain paperwork should be added as it arises, including: Records of trainings, performance reviews, counseling reports, compensation increases, and other employment records such as injuries sustained on the job.
You’ll notice, we aren’t including paperwork that is confidential in nature, like medical records, affirmative action information, letters of reference, documents relating to litigation and other confidential or privileged documents, and employment eligibility (Form I-9) documentation. Why? These documents should be maintained in a separate confidential file.
There is a reason for splitting your files in this way and it comes down to access.
Who Can Access Personnel Files?
There should certainly be a limitation to the access of personnel files because they are Company property and only authorized management with a legitimate reason to review such information should be permitted to do so, in addition to the employee themself who may request to inspect their file.
Usually, employees will need file a written request to review their personnel file, and such a review should be done during business hours and with the observation of either a member of the Human Resources Department or their supervisor. The reason for observing the employee inspect their own file is to make sure they don’t alter or remove any documents in their file.
Additionally, those who make requests under the law may also access copies of documents in an employee’s personnel files, and those requests must be complied with consistent with the law and in a reasonable time period.
What About Personnel Data Changes?
These, of course, should be made as notice is received from the employee. Likewise, employees should be aware of the importance of submitting changes in their personnel data. Personnel data changes can relate to their personal mailing address, telephone number(s), citizenship status, withholding allowances, marital status, name(s) and number(s) of emergency contacts, dependents, and/or insurance beneficiaries, as well as educational accomplishments.
When Can We Destroy Personnel Files?
Once an employment relationship terminates, it’s natural you want to clean up and remove their file from your cabinet. However, in Florida, you must keep the file for seven (7) years following separation of the employment relationship. So we suggest that to clean up, you move the file to a separate drawer, or divide your drawer, where you can keep only the files of separated employees.
Get Help From a Florida Employment Lawyer
Managing a staff of employees can be daunting, there are lots of layers to consider and many rules that should be followed. Employers should be prepared to seek legal support. If you have any specific questions or concerns about employee personnel files, contact an experienced Florida employment law attorney for immediate assistance.