Written by:  Cheryl Nathan, Director, HR Services

    I know that most people think springtime is the time of the year for the big clean and purge in their homes – for me it’s November.  With two young children in the house, I have to purge toys and other “stuff” – to make room for the new stuff that may be coming our way at Christmas (not to mention making room for a Christmas tree and other holiday decorations in our well used living room).

    Record RetentionFrom an HR perspective, this is also a good time of the year for some cleaning and purging in the office.  I tend to keep only active employee files and the last 2 years of terminated employee files in my office – all others are boxed up, labeled and stored accordingly (either in an on-site secured closet or an off-site secured storage area).

    I also purge my terminated I-9 binder and shred any I-9s for terminated employees that have passed the “3 years after date of hire or 1 year after date of termination whichever is later” rule.

    As an HR Consultant, I often get questions about record retention – how long to keep terminated employee files, for example – and the answers are always so difficult.  Retention regulations do exist for various statutes:

    (a) FMLA records should be retained for 3 years

    (b) FLSA records for 2 years

    (c) ERISSA documents for 6 years

    (d) OSHA logs for 5 years/OSHA exposure records for 30 years and

    (e) COBRA information for 7 years

    However, the passage of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 has changed legal opinion regarding the length of time to keep any/all related personnel records.  Current legal opinion states to create a document retention system that will allow the organization to defend itself against pay discrimination claims, which includes:

    Indefinite retention of documentation of pay decisions and decisions related to promotions, job assignments, layoffs and other decisions that affect compensation.

    That is a lot of “stuff” to keep “indefinitely” – but luckily off-site storage and electronic storage options are available.  Just remember to clearly label all boxes/files before storing them – it will make your life much easier if you need to retrieve an old file or document at a later date.

    So, while the answers are not crystal clear – and the solutions may be challenging – be glad that at least at home you can purge toys and clothes in a much quicker time frame!