Chapter 7:
Personnel Record Retention Requirements
Federal Laws

Updated as of June 2006



Records Which Must Be Preserved By The Employer

Length Of Time Records Must Be Maintained

1. Fair Labor Standards Act

(FLSA) **
29 USC 211 (c)
29 CFR 516.2-10





** For record keeping requirements in special situations, such as apprentices, learners, job orders submitted to employment agencies or labor unions for recruitment of personnel, commission employees see Regulation Part 516.

Non-Exempt Employees

A. All payroll or other records containing the following:

  1. *Name, home address (including zip code), date of birth (if under 19), sex and occupation of each employee.
  2. *Time of day and day of week on which the employee’s workweek begins (if all workers have the same workweek and starting time, only one notation is necessary).
  3. Regular hourly rate of pay for any workweek when overtime is worked.
  4. Hours worked each workday and total hours worked each workweek.
  5. Total daily, or weekly straight-time earnings or wages, including all earnings or wages due during any overtime worked, but exclusive of overtime excess compensation.
  6. Total overtime excess computation for a workweek (earnings received over and above the straight-time earnings or wages received for overtime work).
  7. Total additions to or deductions from wages paid each pay period.
  8. *Total wages paid each pay period, date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.
  9. Retroactive payment of wages including the amount of such payment, period covered by such payment, and the date of payment.


Three (3) years.

B. Union agreements, employment contracts, plans, trusts and other wage agreements.

Three (3) years.

C. Contracts and memorandums pertaining to Belo - Type contracts. Three (3) years.
D. Agreements basing overtime pay on piece, hourly or basic rates. Three (3) years.
E. Sales and purchase records kept by the employer in the ordinary course of business showing dollar volume of sales or business, and the total volume of goods purchased. Three (3) years.
F. All basic time and earning cards or sheets on which are entered the daily starting and stopping time of individual employees, or of separate work forces, or the individual employee’s daily, weekly or pay period amounts of work accomplished when those amounts determine in whole or in part the pay period earnings or wages of the employees. Two (2) years.
G. All tables or schedules of the employer which provide the piece rates or other rates used in computing straight-time earnings, wages, salary or overtime excess computation. Two (2) years.
H. All tables or schedules of the employer which establish the hours and days of employment of individual employees or of separate work forces. Two (2) years.
I. Original or true copies of any and all customer orders or invoices received, incoming or outgoing shipping or delivery records, as well as all bills of lading and all billings to customers which the employer retains or makes in the course of his business or operations. Two (2) years.
J. Records of additions to or deductions from wages paid to employees, all employee purchase orders or assignments. Two (2) years.

Exempt Employees

A.With respect to exempt employees (Executive., Administrative., Professional., Outside Salesperson & Academic Administrative Personnel) employers shall maintain and preserve records containing all the information and data required by items 1, 2, & 8 above (indicated by asterisk) and in addition thereto the basis on which the wages are paid in sufficient detail to permit calculation of each pay period of the employee’s total remuneration for employment including fringe benefits and prerequisites (this may be shown as $725 mo. ... $165 wk. ... $1200 mo. Plus 2 percent commission on gross sales ... on fee basis per schedule No. 2 with appropriate addenda such as "plus hospitalization and insurance plan A," "benefit package 9," "2 weeks paid vacation," etc.).

Three (3) years.

2. Federal Unemployment Tax Act

26 USC 3301-3311 (FUTA)

Records which indicate total remuneration, including amounts withheld for any reason, paid to employees; amount of such remuneration which constitutes wages subject to tax; amount of contributions paid into each state unemployment fund; extent to which the employer is liable for the tax; if total remuneration paid and amount subject to tax is not equal, the reason therefore; dates, in each calendar quarter, on which each employee performed services not in the course of the employer’s trade or business, and the amount of cash remuneration paid at any time for such services performed. Four (4) years after the date the tax is due or paid, whichever is later.

3. Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act

29 CFR 405.9
29 USC 433-436

Any documents which will substantiate statements filed with the Bureau of Labor Management; reports such as vouchers, worksheets, receipts, and applicable resolutions. Five (5) years after filing.

4. Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)

26 USC 3101-26

A. Name, address and account number of the employee.

B. The total amount and end date of each payment of remuneration and the period of services covered by such payment.

C. The amount of each payment of remuneration that constitutes wages subject to tax.

D. The amount of employee tax collected with respect to such payment, and, if collected at a time other than the time the payment was made, the date collected.

E. If the total remuneration payment and the amount thereof that is taxable are not equal, the reason therefore.

F. Details of each adjustment or settlement of taxes under the Act; copy of each statement furnished in explanation of any omission or error in a return or schedule required by regulations.

Four (4) years after due date of taxes or the dates taxes are paid, whichever is later.

5. Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

29 USC 1001-1381 (ERISA)

Records with respect to each employee sufficient to determine the benefits due or which may become due. Six (6) years from required filing date of document.

6.Walsh–Healey Act

41 USC 35-45
41 CFR 50-20150

A. Name, address, sex, and occupation of each employee covered by the contract stipulations. Three (3) years.
B. Date of birth of each employee under eighteen (18) years of age and if the employer has obtained a certification of age, the title and address of the office issuing such certificate, the number of the certificate, if any, the date of its issuance, and the name, address, and date of birth of the minor, as it appears on the certificate of age must be recorded.  
C.Wage and hour records of employees covered under the law, including rate of wages and the amount paid each pay period, hours worked each day and each week, and the period during which such employee was engaged on a government contract with the number of such contract. Three (3) years from date of last entry.
D. Records of injury frequency rates. Three (3) years from last date of
E. All basic time and earning cards or sheets of the employer on which are entered the daily starting and stopping time of individual employees or of separate work forces or the individual employee’s daily, weekly, or pay period amounts of work accomplished when those amounts determine in whole or in part the pay period earnings or wages of those employees. Two (2) years from last date of entry.
F. All tables or schedules of the employer which provide the piece rates or other rates used in computing straight time earnings, wages or salary, or overtime excess compensation. Two (2) years from last date of entry.
G. All schedules or tables of the employer which establish the hours and days of employment of individual employees or of separate work forces. Two (2) years from last date of entry.

7. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)

42 USC 2000E
29 CRF 1602

The law does not provide for types or kinds of personnel records to be maintained by an employer. However, any personnel or employment records, including forms submitted by applicants and other records having to do with hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, lay off or termination, rates of pay or other terms of compensation and selection for training shall be preserved.

Employers who have an apprenticeship program must preserve application forms and the list of applicants in chronological order containing names and addresses including notation of sex and minority designation.

One (1) year or until final disposition of the charge.

Two (2) years or period of successful applicants apprenticeship, whichever is later.

8. Executive Order 11246 The Order does not specify that any specific kinds of records should be maintained by an employer. However, affirmative action plans require information and data to support compliance such as information as to the practices, policies, programs, employment policies, and employment statistics of the contractor and each subcontractor. Two (2) years.

9. Code of Federal Regulations

(CFR) 60-250
(Federal Contractors-
Employment of Veterans)

Quarterly reports filed with the State Employment Development Division listing the number of individuals hired during reporting period, number hired who are disabled veterans and number of non-disabled veterans of Vietnam era. One (1) year after final payment under contract.

10. Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA)

29 USC 621-634
29 USC 211C
29 CFR 1627

A. All payroll or other records which contain the employee’s name, address, date of birth, occupation, rate of pay, days worked each week, and compensation earned each week. Three (3) years.
B. All other personnel or employment records which relate to hiring, promoting, or discharging employees; job description; occupational qualifications; collective bargaining agreements; hiring and promotion policies and practices; job orders; advertisements; job applications (test papers, physical examinations, advertisements); other matters pertinent to a determination whether an action, limitation, or classification is based on a factor other than age. One (1) year from date of record or personnel action.
C. All employee benefit plan records such as pension and insurance plans and copies of all seniority and merit systems. For the full period of the plan or system and one (1) year thereafter.
D. All records as outlined in paragraph B with regard to applicants for temporary job positions. Ninety (90) days from date of record or personnel action.
11. Equal Pay Act Any records which explain or relate to the payment of wages, wage rates, job evaluations, job descriptions, merit systems, seniority systems, collective bargaining agreements, description of pay practices or other matters which describe or explain the basis of payment of any differential to employees of the opposite sex. Two (2) years from date of record or personnel action.

12.William-Steiger Occupational and Health Act 1970

(29 CFR Part 1910 – Employee Exposure and Medical Records 1980)

A. "Employee exposure record" means a record containing any of the following kinds of information concerning employee exposure to toxic substances or harmful physical agents:

  1. Environmental (workplace) monitoring or measuring, including personal, area, grab, wipe, or other form of sampling, as well as related collection and analytical methodologies, calculations, and other background data relevant to interpretation of the results obtained;
  2. Biological monitoring results which directly assess the absorption of a substance or agent by body systems (e.g., the level of a chemical in the blood, urine, breath, hair, fingernails, etc.) but not including results which assess the biological effect of a substance or agent;
  3. Material safety data sheets; or
  4. In the absence of the above, any other record which reveals the identity (e.g., chemical, common, or trade name) of a toxic substance or harmful physical agent.
Thirty (30) years.
See Note #4.

B. "Employee medical records" means a record concerning the health status of an employee which is made or maintained by a physician, nurse, or other health care personnel, or technician, including:

  1. Medical and employment questionnaires or histories (including job description and occupational exposures);
  2. The results of medical examinations (preemployment, preassignment, periodic, or episodic) and laboratory tests (including X-ray examinations and all biological monitoring);
  3. Medical opinions, diagnoses, progress notes, and recommendations;
  4. Descriptions of treatments and prescriptions; and
  5. Employee medical complaints.
Duration of employment plus
thirty (30) years.
See Note #4.
OSHA 29 CFR 1904.6 C. Log and Supplementary Records Five (5) Years

13. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992


No particular personnel records are required. Employers are required to maintain personnel and employment records which are created for one year from the date the record is made or the date of the personnel action at issue, whichever is later.  

14. Family and Medical Leave Act

(29 CFR §825.500)

A. Basic payroll and identifying employee data, including name, address, and occupation; rate or basis of pay and terms of compensation; daily and weekly hours worked per pay period; additions to or deductions from wages; and total compensation paid.

B. Dates FMLA leave is taken by employees.

C. If FMLA leave is taken in increments of less than one full day.

D. Copies of employee notices of leave furnished to the employer.

E. Any documents (including written and electronic records) describing employee benefits or employer policies and practices.

F. Premium payment of employee benefits.

G. Records of any dispute between the employer and an employee regarding designation of leave.

Three (3) years.

15. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program


A. Employers holding federal contracts must keep all personnel or employment records pertaining to hiring, assignment, promotions, demotions, transfers, layoffs, rates of pay, request for reasonable accommodation, job advertisement and posting, tests, test results, and interview notes. One (1) year.
  1. Contractors with fewer than 150 employees or contracts of less than $150,000.
  2. Contractors with more than 150 employees or contracts of more than $150,000.
Two (2) years.

16. Employment Verification Form


The complete form must be retained by the employer.

A. Three years after the date of hiring; or

B. One year after the date the employment is terminated, which ever is later.


17.Wage Withholding Tax

26 USC 3402

Renumeration Records relating to W-4 withholding Four (4) years


Note #1: No definite time period is specified by law.

Note #2:When record keeping requirements overlap, the longest record retention requirement prevails.

Note #3: It is recommended that any time a complaint or charge has been filed with a governmental agency that all personnel records relevant to the charge be preserved until the final disposition of the case.

Note #4: California will have to meet these same requirements as the federal law requires self administering states to be at least as effective as the federal law.

Note #5: For a complete and detailed analysis of record retention requirements under federal laws, refer to "Guide to Record Retention Requirements" for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office,Washington, D.C. 20402.


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