Your company has a great new photocopier that’s making a lot of people’s jobs much easier. It’s also exponentially increasing your company’s lawsuit risks.
You see, that copier may be retaining copies of records that have been scanned into the machine’s hard drive. You can’t access those records directly, but someone could remove the drive and copy your confidential records.
“That’s something everyone should be aware of,” says attorney Catherine Moreton Gray, a labor and employment law attorney at McCarter & English, LLP. This has implications for confidentiality, especially when the copier is disposed of, she notes.
Recordkeeping is a critical HR function, she adds, but you won’t get tested until there’s an audit, charge, or lawsuit. And if you fail the test, your poor recordkeeping practices can result in substantial financial penalties and damages.
What Records Must You Keep—and How Many Files Do You Need?
There are several types of records that HR managers need to be aware of, Gray says. Here’s her list of the most common records employers should keep:
Records Related to Hiring
- Job postings and advertisements
- Job descriptions
- Applications and resumes
- Interview notes
- Reference checks
- EEO data if required
- Requests for accommodation
New Hire Records
- Employee records
- Records related to job classification
- Independent contractor
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- Job bands or salary grades
- Job evaluation
- Benchmarking analysis
- Benefit plans and summary plan descriptions
- Records related to eligibility for benefits
- ERISA reporting
- Retirement plans and 401(k)
- OSHA- and Cal/OSHA-required documents
- Policies and procedures
- Affirmative Action
- Tax forms and payments
- Records to establish compliance with other laws
Storing Documents Electronically
One question that most employers are asking is, How about electronic storage of records? Gray notes that electronic storage is acceptable, but there are guidelines that must be met:
- You must have reasonable controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy, authenticity, and reliability of records
- Records must be maintained in reasonable order and in a safe and accessible place so they can be readily inspected or examined
- Electronic records must be readily convertible into a legible, readable paper copy
- Adequate records management practices must be established and implemented
- All records must have high degree of legibility and readability
Original paper records are disposed of at any time after they have been transferred to the electronic recordkeeping system, Gray notes.
Your electronic recordkeeping system should be capable of:
Adequate records management practices include:
- A secure storage environment
- Back-up electronic copies
- Off-site storage location
- Quality assurance program with periodic checks of records
- Retention of paper records that cannot be clearly, accurately, or completely transferred to an electronic recordkeeping system.
In tomorrow’s CED, benefits and pitfalls of electronic recordkeeping, plus help with your California HR recordkeeping obligations for 2015.
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