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Getting out from under the mass of HR paperwork!

hr best practices hr compliance hr department hr essentials hr for small business hr management Jan 11, 2021

Paperwork is paperwork – even when it’s kept electronically and digitally signed!  Documentation seems to be the bedrock of the HR function, but shouldn’t take over your life.  When you have systems that are properly managed technology can take the strain off a small Human Resources function. It can be a pain to keep track of everything - but it’s even worse when you don’t! When there is any dispute with an employee, the first thing reviewed is the written record. Without documentation, a game of “he said, she said” develops and rarely is this resolved satisfactorily.

What do you need to have?

The law requires a great deal of documentation relating to the life cycle of employees and the organization as an overall entity. This starts with the candidates for a position and doesn’t end until after they are separated. Some typical examples that impact all businesses include:

  • New paperwork including tax forms, direct deposit etc.
  • I-9 form
  • OSHA 300 and 300A log
  • FMLA paperwork (if you have over 50 employees)
  • COBRA forms
  • EEO-1 annual report (for those with over 100 employees)

and many others documents which are often dependent on your size and industry.

Forms issued by government offices change often but are updated and available on the Internet. A great examples is the new I-9 form.  Here is the link to the current form:

It seems like there is so much more?

There are many documents used within the HR function that are not required by law. However, they are recommended as they will help you defend any question of compliance requirements. The forms in this category include:

  • Employment application
  • Performance review forms
  • Training completion documents
  • Written warnings
  • All other notes and documents kept relating to the employee and the workplace

What do you keep?

There should always be a formal record to indicate communication with employees has occurred around a given workplace incident. This will be used if there is a dispute with unemployment, a discrimination claim, or charge of wrongful termination. At the same time, not every conversation has to have a formal notice signed by the employee put into a file. There are times when a verbal warning is appropriate, or a manager can make note of a conversation without the employee’s signature. Make this decision based on the severity and frequency of the situation.

It is critical to maintain documentation that is consistent among employees. In many employment disputes, the first thing courts or government entities review is how other similarly situated employees were treated.

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