If you’re one of those HR managers who automatically documents every employee action from hire to fire, then good for you. It’s a great start. But if you think that’s enough, you’d better read on. Likewise, if you aren’t an automatic documenter or if you’ve never bothered to bring all your employee records up to current standards then this might convince you to take a closer look.
There are lots of reasons why employee recordkeeping can get sloppy: poor or inconsistent filing methods, premature destruction, or insufficient understanding of what’s required. This can land you in trouble if an employee files a lawsuit for discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment or any number of other causes of action. Their lawyers – or the government’s if claims are filed through EEOC or other agencies – will quickly discover what’s missing from your files and potentially build their case on your inadequate recordkeeping.
That’s why conducting a self-audit of what’s actually in your employee records before a problem arises can be the ounce of prevention that protects your business from an expensive liability. Yes, it’s tedious. (That’s why it fell so low on the priority scale to begin with!) But now that summer is here you may be able to take advantage of freed-up time from slowed workflows or part-time summer help to take a look at what kinds of time bombs might be sitting in your employee files, and bring them into compliance.
A good example of an often-overlooked recordkeeping requirements is I-9 forms. You can keep these in one aggregated file for everybody, but…what if one group of workers is routinely asked to supply their Social Security cards for photocopying but they learn that other workers (of different ethnicity, perhaps) are not asked for theirs? The EEOC will be very interested to learn about your selective I-9 recordkeeping, and suddenly you are looking at a big fine because it’s clear from your own files that you discriminated against one ethnic group.
And that is just a minor example – more common errors abound. If you deny leave to a salaried employee who kept good track of all their work hours even while not in the office – and your leave decision assumed their work hours added up to a lot less – it’s the employee’s written records that will prevail in court.
GeniusHR offers a free Employee Records Checklist to guide you through your self-audit. You can find it here.