The purpose of keeping an employee personnel file is twofold: to document what your company needs for its own purposes and to keep documentation as required by law. Many companies maintain one file for their own purposes—including items like achievements, disciplinary notices, employment history, and other office-specific documents—and an additional file with the documents required by law. Other companies keep numerous personnel files, each for its own specific purpose. Regardless of the number of files a company keeps, a digital personnel file is a more secure and easily accessible option than keeping paper files.
The Importance of an Employee Personnel File for Best Practices
Most employers will keep a file of documents that are required by law, but they often overlook a file for best-practice purposes. This file is necessary to give your company an accurate view of each employee’s history. The information contained within could be necessary in the event your company is the defendant in a lawsuit—assuming you preserve the information correctly. Digital employee documentation is the easiest way to ensure you have easy access to the information in a safe, secure place.
Guidelines for Any Type of Employee Personnel File
The information kept in each file, and the way it’s kept, will vary based on the purpose of the personnel file.
- You may store a personnel file differently if it contains information you need access to a regular basis, or if it’s information you need for future reference but won’t access regularly.
- Access to and the security of files will vary based on what’s contained within
- Employees should be able to access their own personnel files (and in many cases companies are legally obligated to provide access for individuals to their own file) but it’s up to each company to find the right way to allow access.
- Always remember that no matter who has access to it, the Human Resources department at any given company is the owner of their employee’s files, making them 100% responsible for the security of said files.
Employee Personnel File: What Goes In It?
The employee personnel file is the main file an employer keeps for every employee. It contains everything related to the employee’s employment history with that company.
The following are some of the most common documents included:
- Employment history: Application, resume, emergency contact information, employment and education verification, references, etc.
- Employee performance and development: Performance appraisals, improvement plans, attendance records, self-assessments, competency assessments, training information, etc.
- Employment termination records: Resignation letter, COBRA information, exit interview, etc.
Digital employee documentation is the easiest way to securely save this information in the same place.
Medical File: The Basics
Each employee also needs medical information on record. Some companies choose to have a separate digital personnel file for medical information.
This file generally includes the following:
- Health insurance forms
- Life insurance information
- Applications for other employee benefits
- Requests for paid and/or medical leaves
- FMLA reports and paperwork
- Medical excuses
- Accident and injury reports as required by OSHA
Once again, the easiest way to keep this highly sensitive information secure is in a digital format, preferably through employee file management software.
I-9 File Contents
There are several government agencies that may request access to an employee’s I-9 verification form. As a result, many companies keep a separate file to ensure easy, secure access. Note that the I-9 verification form is required by the Department of Homeland Security for every employee in the US hired after November 6, 1986.
It’s the employee’s responsibility to fill out Section 1 of the form, but it’s up to the employer to ensure it’s done and properly stored. The employer must also check the employee’s verification documents and complete Section 2, which requires them to examine and verify two original, unexpired eligibility documents. This must be done within 3 days of the first date of employment.
Keeping this I-9 verification form separate serves several purposes. As mentioned above, government agencies may need to inspect these forms for a variety of reasons. You do need to surrender the information they request, but you don’t want to give them access to your employee’s irrelevant confidential information. To ensure restricted access to your employee’s personnel files, keep them separate.
The Simple Solution to Keeping Digital Personnel Files Secure and Easy to Access
Your company wants to comply with regulations, and your company wants to stay organized. eFileCabinet makes it easy to do both. You can easily separate employee information into several files so that it’s easy to access exactly the information you want. The files are kept secure, confidential, and organized. Employees can be given access via password to view their own files without compromising the confidentiality of other employee personnel files. In short, it’s the simplest, most secure way to keep a digital personnel file on each employee.