Personnel File: What to Include & Not Include [+Checklist]

Cody Cromwell
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Employee File Folder Checklist

You can include a folder and actually look at what you have in the file. Hold the folder in your left hand with the front out. Position your right hand on the back with the index and middle fingers on top of the folder. Start to shuffle the file. If you can't feel the edges of the folder then you can include this.

Be sure to include reward and incentive programs. Also be sure to show how the company has increased/decreased its profits through cost cutting or marketing. In order to do this show the budget before the model for all of the areas. Field/offices/stores/other things in regards to downsizing or closing becomes a factor in the financial statements.

In the folder, more than likely there is a yearly goals booklet for the year ahead. Be sure to include this along with any any meetings you anticipate meeting to get things going for the new year.

Other things to include:

Communication plan/strategy goals. This section of the folder is for corporate goals and how communications is going to help with these goals.

Show how the company is ranked in terms of position. If the company is a subsidiary of another company, the parent company needs to be documented.

Communication goals and goals for the next year. This section of the folder is for communication between departments.

Personnel File Audit

Part 1: What to Include & Not Include [- Checklist]

An employee personnel file is a detailed record of background information that can include performance reviews, timecards, attendance records, and other administrative material. It is important to maintain a quality, detailed personnel file or you will not be able to prove that you interacted with your employee on a certain date and time.

The key element to an effective employee personnel file is that it is organized, reliable, and has a current date index. The following sections discuss the different types of material that should generally be included in a personnel file and the approximate file size that should be maintained for this type of information.

Current Instructions

Your employee handbook should specify the format of your personnel file and the instructions your office must follow to maintain the file. Every typed document within the file, however, should include the date that information was written.

Your personnel file should have a current date index that details the actions taken on the timecard, performance review, and other information. This is a helpful tool that can document your employee’s current status, challenges, and achievements.

The personnel file should generally include the information from a company handbook and the following documents:

  • Initial Personnel File
  • Employee Performance Review/Reference Background
  • Employee Advancement and Training Progress
  • Employee Disciplinary Records
  • Employee Insurance Forms

What to Include in a Personnel File

If you are considering any type of employment this year, spending the time to make a thorough and professional looking personnel file is a good way to make a good impression on potential employers. The following are some things to include in your file as a starting point:

A detailed resume (make sure your resume is updated so it is current. Never submit a typewritten copy to a potential employer.)

A Current Photo (if Possible)

A clean and neat personnel file (we’ll talk about this in more detail below).

A Good Name Tag (Including Your Contact Info)

A resume can be the first step toward getting hired for a position (it does make you seem more organized), but you can’t get hired if you don’t have the job.

If the job you are applying for is customer-based, interview training is a great thing to include in your file. If the job is more about the work environment itself or you want to add this to your resume, you may also find some interview tips helpful.

8 Must-Have Documents in Employee Personnel Files

Employee personnel files are never intended to hold onto information for a lifetime. However, a troubling trend that’s been growing in recent years is the degree to which employers are prying into their employees’s private lives. With the unemployment rate rising, it’s not hard to understand why employers are trying to get as much information about their employees as possible. The problem is that having a comprehensive file doesn’t actually provide any valuable information about a potential employee…it just makes it easy for the employer to start digging through his or her life.

Here’s how to construct an effective personnel file.

10 Nice-to-Have Documents to Include in Employee Personnel Files

Whether you are starting a new business or just adding new staff members to an existing one, ensuring you have the right information and documents ready to go is always important. When you are looking at your process for human resources, it’s essential to consider having listed the following things in your employee personnel file:

  • A copy of their resume
  • Semi-annual evaluations
  • Copies of any policies, procedures or written agreements
  • Time sheet, travel expense and mileage log
  • A list of personal references
  • Copies of any training courses that they are taking
  • Copies of their fingerprints and photo
  • Proof of licensing, proof of insurance and tax information

Optional Items to Include in Employee Personnel Files

The most important thing to include in an employee’s personnel file is a PDF of the entire E-Verify Form or an E-Verify signature card. However, this is something I’ve seen some people skip. However, this is something you should never skip … especially if you are a USCIS employee.

Employers are required by law to use E-Verify. It’s a system for determining if a prospective employee is eligible to work legally in the United States. If you’re looking for a job at a reputable company, E-Verify should be a standard part of the hiring process.

In addition to verifying a potential employee’s eligibility to work in the United States, E-Verify can help an employer root out illegal workers. A picture is worth a thousand words … and everyone hates when illegal workers are quietly working at their company without their knowledge. E-Verify, which requires an employee to provide a copy of his or her most recent physical I-551 Employment Authorization Card, is a great tool for rooting out illegal workers.

What Not to Keep in Personnel Files

A personnel file is usually a document with information on the employee. It contains details like educational qualifications, work experience, character references, health issues, salary, whereabouts during entire working period or leave, complaints, disciplinary issues, performance etc.

Employees usually save a copy of this document after their work tenure in their portfolio or on their note apps to update their profile on application sites.

An employee usually chooses not to share every little thing in their personnel file from an employer or one can be forced to disclose the contents to a third party through the directive.

Apart from such issues, here are few important things that one should not keep intact in a personnel file (it depends on your area of work).

While there might be some exceptions, generally one should not include sensitive information in their personnel file like company's confidential data, passwords etc.

Employees should also not include any information about the company's confidential and proprietary information.

Employee's should not include personal information about other individuals like their family members, other employees etc.

Employees should not engage in any discrimination based on sex, caste or religion.

Employees should not file false complaints since it can aggravate the situation and affect the company's reputation.

Employees should not include any information about their sexual orientation, diseases and medication or mental health issues.

Employment Eligibility Verification

I've always thought that reference checks were important because it's a good way to check hiring managers' references for how the employee did in his/her past jobs. It's hard to say younger managers wouldn't lie on their background checks. It is hard because some people have to if they don't want to reveal sensitive information about their job history.

The job history verification should be the first document on the list. Leave out anything concerning pay, benefits, hours, etc. Then, you can include things like transferrable skills for other positions, technical knowledge, education, etc. Depending on the job, I've provided a list of optional things like previous work experience, non-technical skills, etc. to consider including. Check out the suggestions towards the end of the post.

Create an objective for your application: This must be written in an objective statement and the objective statement must be written the way it's written on your application form. We use this system for two-step verifications. I've never heard of one-step verifications so I am not sure if it would work this way.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Information

All employers must abide by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, The Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended by the Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2009, and other federal and state laws relating to discrimination and equal employment opportunities.

This position is located at the Fairfax location (Fairfax, VA, USA) and is located on the grounds of a Federal Government-owned institution where the normal business operations of the operation are not compatible with the functioning of this position. The information in this vacancy announcement is being provided by the U.S. government in accordance with the Federal Civil Service Employment Reform Act (Pub.L. 93-443, 88 Stat. 220).

Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution before entering any potentially dangerous traffic lanes. Motorists should be cautious of Pedestrellists and, if necessary, make a safe and careful stop. Pedestrians should acknowledge and respect pedestrian traffic signals.

Medical Information

Any potential employees’ medical history should be a top priority. Include their medical history…allergies, conditions, surgeries and allergies to any medications.

They might be exempt from certain medical requirements but you may want to consider their physical fitness. If you are excited about being in the same military unit with them, you might want to include their fitness test scores.

Make sure to include any sketchy past behavior such as paperwork misrepresentation or potential incidents of inappropriate behavior.

Employers have the right to check on their employees…if you see a technical error, please notify the hiring manager.

This is especially true if the employee does not have a valid work visa. Senior executives are also very particular about employee roots and believe that a law-abiding citizen can never make mistakes.

The hiring manager evaluates and assesses applicants whom he/she feels are suitable for the job. If you think your candidate is a fit for the job, don’t give up…you may get hired after all.

How to Set Up Employee Personnel Files

For corporate employers, setting up an employee personnel file is a standard practice for both employee retention and promotion. However, many employers are limited to that standard practice, because they do not know how to effectively set up a personnel file.

Hiring managers generally consider an employee personnel file an effective tool for building and keeping good relationships with employees. However, some questions may remain about what to include in an employee personnel file, and the company’s establishment of a file may not yet be seen as an appropriate initiative by HR.

Here are some recommended guidelines on setting up a personnel file:

  • Ensure that your personnel file covers records of employee accomplishments, skills, educational background, and accomplishments in the previous work environment.
  • Avoid mixing such important matters with employee’s private data or information on the family and personal lives and parties.
  • Make sure that such information is not confidential, as it may have been leaked
  • Equal treatment should be accorded to all the employees. This allows a fair application of other programs and policies.
  • Each employee should be accorded the precious opportunity to share his/her opinion about the current work situation, and submit sincere and candid suggestions or complaints regarding the work environment, so that reasonable actions could be taken.

Create Personnel Files for New Employees

Federal and State Laws Pertaining to Personnel Files

Federal Laws

Federal Laws and Guidelines for Disability Reimbursement Claims provides important information about laws and guidelines that pertain to filing for and seeking disability reimbursement from the Social Security Administration.

This Guide Is Broken down into Three Parts …

Federal Laws and Guidelines for Disability Reimbursement Claims

Federal Laws and Guidelines for Disability Reimbursement Claims provides the history of the Social Security Administration’s disability reimbursement program as well as general information on taxes. The rest of the document talks about when a person may claim that they are disabled and therefore eligible for a disability income.

In order to be eligible, a person will need a letter from a doctor that proves the person is disabled in some way. The doctor must also document that the disability has lasted or will last for the rest of the person’s life.

Tax Information for Disabled Workers

Tax Information for Disabled Workers provides information on what to do when claiming a Social Security disability income. This section gives advice and guidelines for taking out the Social Security Disability Retirement (SSD) income as well as information on disability taxes for anyone paying the disability taxes. It also provides links to local and state government offices that can give you more information on tax information.

State Laws

By Lisa M. Reynolds

What should you include in an employee’s personnel file? In most cases, everything, including a recent picture and verified contact information for any references. Also, it’s not only necessary to include the following, but it’s also an excellent idea to consider including a copy of the employee’s most recent performance review. If you are including references, list their names, address, and phone number. Additionally, you may want to include a list of the employee’s in-house accomplishments, examples of self-improvement, etc. This provides the employee with validation that you are paying attention.

It’s also very important that you maintain your employees’ personnel records on a regular basis. Whoever has worked with him/her for any length of time should have a copy of his/her complete file. This is a great way to gain insight on a person you’ve never worked with with a variety of additional details you couldn’t get from a simple reference check.

Alternatives to a Paper Personnel File

You might be surprised to see some of those items on your employee file. In fact, you might wonder what purpose they serve. Well, it is always a good idea to review your file on a regular basis. You can use an online personnel file checklist tool which allows you to create a checklist of all the employee forms and documents that your company keeps.

Employee Files: What info to include, what to exclude [+checklist]

In today's modern business environment, having a paper-based employee file is quite outdated and impractical.

Paper files clear up space in storage rooms but are also very inefficient at keeping your business organized and keep your employees updated. Employees also have to wait for weeks before they receive a copy of their file and this is time wasted.

So, you can forget about those paper files and start using online personnel files. By using a personnel file website, you can:

Store all the employee files electronically.

Create a paperless employee file in seconds.

Save lot of costs that you would otherwise pay out.

Improve efficiency in the workplace.

Update your employees in real time with real-time employee details.

Transfers to and from other companies.

Get instant notifications for enhancements in the file.

All without the tedious process of printing and stuffing employee files.

5 Options for Personnel File Storage

Hiring and managing employees poses a unique set of challenges. Hiring the right person for a job is important to the success of any business. However, mismanaging employees and turning them into roadblocks instead of assets is easy to do and can be a huge money drain.

One of the critical components in any organization is the personnel files. These files include a business owner’s rules and guidelines on employees, job descriptions, and job evaluations. The most effective way to maintain a firm…s personnel files is to scan them into a computer file and store it on a cloud storage service.

The following are the most common sets of personnel files. These files are commonly in 3 or 5 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch (A3) or 3 or 5 1/2 inch by 14 inch (B).

Three-inches-by-8-inches ( A3 ) (To Fit File Folder)

This is the most common size for personnel files. The size varies between 5 3/4-inches-by-10-inches and 5 1/2 inches-by-8 1/2 inches ( A3 ).

Sign and Store Files Online

Signing and storing files online have become a lot safer and simpler. I use eSignaturesOnline to sign, file, and store my files.

Not only does the service save a lot of time, it does a great job of protecting my documents. Yes, even if a rival company tried to take over, I would know exactly what has agreed to I signed.

See my eSignaturesOnline review for more information how it works.

Why You Need Personnel Files

Do you have good HR software that provides things like performance reviews and job checklists? If not, you’re out of luck when it comes to managing your company’s personnel files.

Nowadays, you hire, promote and fire people every day. But in the process of hiring, you’re not so sure if these candidates can actually do the job. You may have already run some employee background checks and must now evaluate your choices while the clock is ticking and the stakes are getting higher.

However, you’re worried that these security reviews may also reveal confidential information about a candidate to your competitors or friends.

Personnel Evaluations Have to Be Done by hr Professionals

The best way to do this efficiently is already in your HR system. But without the right resources, it can be a daunting and frustrating process. In reality, even if you have the best HR software, you’re still not fully prepared to make employee evaluations a breeze.

Now that you have this list of suggestions, apply these tips and roll out the new HR tech in your company, now that you know how to do each of them in detail.

Scenario 1: Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

You are the manager of a branch office and were recently sued for wrongful termination after a worker’s union representative called for an investigation. Dozens of management complaints are piling up in the files.

What information goes in to a personnel file?

Step 1: Keeping a personnel file is vital when someone is accused of wrongdoing. The purpose of the file is to protect the company against false claims, provide evidence when necessary, and ensure that the suspect is held accountable.

The first rule is to only leave relevant information in the file. If the allegations are of a personal nature, that information should not go in as well. For example, don’t put in things like date of birth, personal information, or status of a civil union.

For additional tips, see our previous post on how to create personnel files.

Step 2: If a lawsuit has been filed, the punitive damages amount should be blacked out. It’s illegal to give a job applicant any indication of what they can expect if they sue the company.

Step 3: Keep the dates of the employee’s date of hire, termination, and any disciplinary action. Include all dates, dates of transfer, re-hire dates, and dates of disciplinary action.

Step 4: Print a copy of the personnel file and include as many copies as you think you will need.

Scenario 2: Independent Contractor

NAME: _______________ PHONE: ________________________ EMAIL: _______________________ _______________ ADDRESS: _____________________

CITY: ________________ STREET: ___________ ZIP: ____________

CITY: ________________ STREET: ____________ ZIP: ___________

AGE: __________ MARITAL STATUS: __________ EDUCATION (if not current):

Or Job History (if not current):

_____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

VETERANS BENEFITS: __________________ __________________ __________________ __________________

INSURANCE: ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________

Frequently Asked Questions

What is most important to include in my personnel file?

Your personnel file should include a complete record of your work history, education, memberships, awards, and noteworthy experiences.

How much do I need to include in my personnel file?

A personnel file should contain everything relevant to your professional life. Minimum information includes your work history, education, memberships, awards, and noteworthy experiences. There is no maximum number of pages required or recommended for a personnel file. Your organization’s human resource contact should determine where and how you keep it – it’s your call!

Does my organization need to keep a personnel file?

Yes, it’s good to keep a personnel file on their current and former employees, as long as it is relevant to their current or future employment. Also, keep your file updated based on changes in your career.

Can my personnel file be destroyed?

Yes, your personnel file can be completely destroyed at any time.

Can I put letters of recommendation in my personnel file?

No, letters of recommendation will not fit in a personnel file.

Can I add a family photo, a picture of me, or my kids on the last page of my personnel file?

How long do you have to keep personnel files?

The length of time that you have to keep personnel files depends on whether or not you are a public or private employer.

Government Agencies

If you are a public employer (government agency), you must keep personnel records until five years after the date of separation or termination. After five years, the personnel records become part of the state’s personnel agency files.

Private Employers

For private employers, the length of time for which you must keep personnel records varies from state to state. Some states have specific statutes that help define the length of time for which you must keep personnel records. Other states do not. However, most states have a statute that establishes a retention period that is, at minimum, one year.

If you are a private employer, your particular state statute may exempt you from the one-year retention requirement. If you are exempt from the requirement, you can still be sued for violation of the statute if you do not make a good faith effort to retain records and if your actions are intentional or negligent.

In some states, private employers may keep personnel records for a specific period of time. However, public employers must keep personnel records indefinitely.

How often should personnel files be audited?

Personally, I’m not a huge advocate of auditing employee files, but if you have a company that’s bigger than just you, it’s best to develop a procedure that assigns responsibility for auditing personnel files. Audit them at least annually.

The purpose of an employee file audit is to see how well the company has been keeping employee information current and accurate. The biggest changes you should expect to see in your employee file include changes in address, change of status, and termination. The audit should also check whether the current employee information matched the appropriate employee information.

Aside from the information you need to record in an employee file, you need to make sure to update the current employee information periodically. This will prevent losing valuable information and help prevent a missed workforce.

If a new employee is hired, you should immediately account for the new employee in the employee file and update all the other information immediately thereafter. This will ensure that employees keeps up to date with what is going on and that the company is in compliance.

Sometimes, change of status may be due to a promotion. There may be circumstances where an employee is no longer in the company but should still remain part of the file. This is an important situation that should be thoroughly discussed with human resources and appropriate precautions should be taken.

What kind of records need to be kept for applicants who aren’t hired?

Although keeping a personnel file seems like a hassle, it’s a great way to learn a little bit about what type of worker is best for the job. This information can be helpful when trying to fill that up-for-hire position, as it can also help you to find new employees in the future.

Also, if you have any future trouble in the workplace, you can refer to those records to see whether you made the right decision regarding a certain employee’s leaving.

Although personnel records can seem like a hassle, they’re necessary for not only hiring new employees, but also for future reference and for making correct compensation decisions, both inside and outside the workplace.

Here are some of the types of records and information you should maintain on an applicant who was not hired.

Phone Interview – It’s best if you can conduct phone screenings to avoid wasting everyone’s time, but there’s a good chance you won’t be able to do so, especially if your company is small. For those that do, logs should be kept of the interview and what was discussed. The logs can also be used to find out if you may have made a mistake in the hiring process.

Who should have access to employee personnel files?

Bottom Line

Does Your Personnel File Include Information About Your:

  • ▪ Work Experience
  • ▪ References
  • ▪ Education
  • ▪ Education History
  • ▪ Deeper than Work Experience & Education
  • ▪ Family History
  • ▪ Criminal History
  • ▪ Professional References
  • ▪ Lower Education Options
  • ▪ References

▪ A Business Acct.

AND DOES IT NOT INCLUde Information About Your:

  • ▪ Personal/Educational Styles
  • ▪ Interests/ Hobbies
  • ▪ Gifts/ Incentives
  • ▪ Characteristics of a Successful Employee

Not All of These Will Be Applicable to U.S. Elections but will be to International Elections.