If you are planning to work in Human Resources, it is crucial that you learn the ins and outs of electronic personnel documents. Since virtually all companies now use computing systems to store personal information and confidential information on their employees, it is a topic all HR professionals need to take the time to learn about. Not only do you need to learn about different types of relationship management programs and how you navigate through them, you also need to learn how the storage of personnel documents in a digital format is regulated by local, state and federal government agencies.

Read on, and learn about the legal guidelines that must be followed when a company goes paperless.

Document Retention Requirements

Electronic storage of employee records is allowed under federal employment laws. While it is permissible to go paperless, those who choose to use electronic storage HR systems need to be aware of the document retention periods that they are required to comply with regardless of how information and documents are stored.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is in charge setting and enforcing employment laws. Many of the laws that have been passed are in place to protect employees from discrimination in the workforce. This is why it is a requirement that all employers in the private sector retain personnel documents and records for no less than one year from the date that the document was created or recorded. If action is taken after the record was placed in the file, the document must be available for one year from the date of the action.

Documents Related to Terminations

When a company terminates an employee, it is possible that the disgruntled employee can claim a long list of violations. To prevent this from happening, employers cannot simply delete the terminated employee’s file as soon as they pack their desk and turn in their badge. Instead, the company must keep documents related to the termination on file to protect themselves and to make investigations of wrongful termination claims easier on the EEOC.

If an employee is terminated, a private company must keep an electronic record of all of the employee’s personnel records for at least a year following the date of termination. If it is a public employer, the requirement is 2 years if it was an involuntary termination. Some of the types of documents that must be kept include: disciplinary records, attendance reports, evaluations, write-ups, proof handbook was received, resumes, application for employment and more. Keep in mind that it is possible that statutory laws and laws for companies with an affirmative action obligation may be different.

Requirements for Systems Storing Tax File Information

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services is in charge of setting regulations for systems that store tax file or I-9 data. All of the documentation stored for this purpose must be stored in a system with reliable controls that ensure accuracy. It is also required that the system prevents unauthorized access and has an indexed retrieval system for easy inspection and quality control.

Companies have a legal duty to maintain personnel records and to furnish them when requested because of litigation. It is your duty in HR to be familiar with the laws at federal and state levels. Learn about all of the laws surrounding the storage of electronic personnel documents, and then you can maintain records appropriately.