When you own or manage a business, it is necessary to file important records in a safe and secure location. It is also vital to understand how long you should retain each of these records. Law requires you to retain various business records for varying lengths of time. Below we identify important records and how long you must retain them for.

One (1) Year

  • Records of gratuities received by employer

Two (2) Years

  • Affirmative action records required by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
  • Personnel or employment records regarding: Hiring, promotion, demotion, selection for training, transfer layoff or termination; job advertisements; job applications, job descriptions; test papers; physical examinations; seniority; merit systems, etc.
  • Work-time schedules and other records, permits, or certificates relating to the employment of minors
  • Contractors subject to the Walsh-Healey Act: Wage and hour records for covered employees and other records for employees under age 19
  • California Family Rights Act Records

Three (3) Years

  • Contractors subject to the Service Contract Act and Davis-Bacon Act: All wage and hour records
  • Sales and purchase records
  • Retirement, pension and insurance plans, trusts, and collective bargaining agreements
  • Employee notices
  • Federal Family and Medical Leave Act Records
  • Payroll records
  • Polygraph examination records - 3 years after the date of examination
  • INS Form I-9 - 3 years or for one year after termination of employment, whichever is longer
  • Federal income tax records - 3 years, but in some instances up to 15 years

Four (4) Years

  • Unemployment insurance records: Any information needed to enable employer to determine employee’s total remuneration in each week - 4 years after the date the tax is due or paid, whichever is later
  • Social Security and Medicare records - 4 years after the date the tax is due or paid, whichever is later

Five (5) Years

  • A claim log of all work-injury claims
  • Closed claim files: original paper files (even if microfilmed for storage)
  • ERISA tax records
  • The OSHA Log 200 and annual summaries of occupational injuries and illnesses - 5 years after the date of injury or date on which compensation benefits were last provided, whichever is later
  • An open claims file for each work-injury claim, including claims that were denied. - 2 years after the claim is closed or five years after the date of injury, whichever is later

Six (6) Years

  • Income tax records - 6 years for some records; indefinitely for others

Entire Time it is in Effect Plus 4 Years

  • Backed-up documentation for any Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act report filed with the Secretary of Labor
  • Employee’s W-4 Form (withholding exemption certification)

30 Years After Termination of Employment

  • Records of employee exposure to hazards such as toxic chemicals, high levels of noise, airborne contaminants, or blood-borne pathogens

Retention Period is Not Specified

  • Every contractor or subcontractor performing a public works project must keep an accurate record showing the name, address, social security number, work classification, straight time and overtime hours worked each day and week, and the actual per diem wages paid to each journeyman, apprentice, worker or employee employed in connection with the project

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