February 15, 2024

Best Practices: Part 2, Employment Records Self-Audit

Building on our discussion about hiring practices, we now turn our focus to a critical yet often overlooked area: the self-audit of employment records. Proper management of employee files, time records, wage statements, and schedules is not just a matter of organizational efficiency; it’s a cornerstone of legal compliance and risk management.

Maintaining Confidentiality and Retention

First and foremost, it’s imperative that employee files, including time records, wage statements, and schedules, are maintained with the utmost confidentiality and retained for at least four years. This retention period safeguards against potential legal claims and ensures compliance with various federal and state laws. Employers should regularly review their record-keeping policies to ensure they align with current legal standards and best practices.

Standardized Forms for Employee Discipline

To manage employee discipline, write-ups, and attendance issues effectively, it’s crucial for managers to have access to set forms. These standardized documents help ensure consistency and fairness in disciplinary actions and provide a clear record of events, which can be invaluable in the event of disputes or legal challenges.

Documenting Absences and Tardiness

The method of documenting employee absences and tardiness should be clear, consistent, and fair. Whether it’s through digital time-tracking systems or manual logs, the process should be straightforward for employees to follow and for managers to review. This documentation plays a vital role in performance evaluations and can impact decisions regarding promotions, raises, and terminations.

Streamlining Documentation Processes

Ensuring the smooth flow of employee documentation and paperwork to Human Resources or the appropriate manager is essential for maintaining up-to-date records. Employers should establish clear protocols for the submission and review of such documents, which can include everything from H-2A job orders to performance reviews and disciplinary records.

Involvement in Disability and Leave Requests

When it comes to reviewing disability accommodation and leave requests, a collaborative approach is often best. Involving Human Resources, the employee’s direct manager, and possibly legal counsel can ensure that such requests are handled sensitively and in a legally compliant manner. This team approach helps in making informed decisions that comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), among other relevant laws.


Conducting a self-audit of your employment records and processes is a proactive step toward mitigating risks and fostering a culture of compliance and respect in the workplace. By addressing these key areas, employers can not only protect themselves against potential legal issues but also build a stronger, more transparent relationship with their employees. Stay tuned for the next article in this series, where we will explore wage and hour issues.