How long does your business need to keep employment records? Although there’s no blanket answer, we’ve compiled an overview of the most common federal laws that apply to employment records retention. The size of your business may determine which are applicable.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act states the following documents should be kept for one year after the record is created or a personnel action is taken, whichever comes last:

  • Job advertisement and postings
  • Resumes
  • Job applications
  • Interview notes
  • Selection, hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, and termination documents
  • Pre-employment screening tests and results
  • Performance reviews
  • Payroll records (including pay and benefits)
  • Employee training records
  • Reasonable accommodation requests

In addition, records required under Title VII must also be retained for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The following documents should generally be retained for three years; timesheets must be kept for at least two years:

  • Employees’ personal information (name, date of birth, gender, address, and occupation)
  • The hours worked for the day and week
  • Pay rates
  • Straight-time wages
  • Overtime wages
  • Total earnings for the pay period
  • Fringe benefits
  • Pay changes

Equal Pay Act (EPA)

The following documents should be kept for three years:

  • Job descriptions
  • Explanations of wage differences between employees of different genders
  • Payroll documents (including those required under the FLSA)
  • Performance evaluations
  • Descriptions of merit, incentive, and seniority systems

Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

The following documents should generally be kept for six years:

  • Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) for health and retirement plans
  • Information supporting SPDs
  • Notice of reportable events, like a reduction of benefits
  • Notice of benefit plan changes, like plan amendments or termination
  • Annual benefits reports

Records used to determine an employee’s eligibility for benefits must be kept for as long as necessary.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The following documents should be kept for three years:

  • Employees’ personal information, including: name, address, occupation, pay rate, daily and weekly hours worked, and total compensation
  • Payroll
  • Dates eligible employees took their FMLA leave and the number of hours taken
  • Copies of employee FMLA leave notices
  • Employer FMLA policies and practices
  • Record of any FMLA leave disputes between the employer and employees

Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

The following documents should be kept for three years after the hire date or one year after the termination date, whichever comes later:

  • Form 1-9
  • Copies of documentation, such as a permanent resident card or U.S. passport (if applicable)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employment Tax Regulations

The following documents should be retained for four years after the tax due date or payment date, whichever is later:

  • Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) records (this includes both employee and employer Medicare and Social Security taxes)
  • Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) records (FUTA is an employer-only tax)

In addition to the above laws, the following federal laws may also impact your employment record keeping:

  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

For more information about how laws on employment records retention apply to your business, please consult with your legal counsel.