The How Long Must Employers Retain Employee Records?

Last month's bulletin addressed the need to retain various employee records. Since we received a couple e-mails asking how long these records must be kept, we thought that would be a good topic for this month's bulletins. Naturally, there is no single answer. The length of time you must keep the records depends on the type of records involved.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):

Under the FLSA, the record-keeping requirements are either two years or three years depending on the type of record involved:

  • Supplementary basic records, (i.e., basic employment and earnings records and wage rate tables), order, shipping, and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages paid, are required to be kept for two years.
  • Payroll records, certificates, agreements, plans, notices, and sales and purchase records, are required to be kept for three years.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, and the ADA, employers with at least fifteen employees must retain applications and other personnel records relating to hires, rehires, tests used in employment, promotion, transfers, demotions, selection for training, layoff, recall, terminations of discharge, for one year from making the record or taking the personnel action.

The ADEA requires the retention of the same records for one year for employers with twenty or more employees.

Title VII and the ADA require that basic employee demographic data, pay rates, and weekly compensation records be retained for at least one year.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

The FMLA requires the retention of certain records with respect to payroll and demographic information as well as information related to the individual employee's leave of absence for three years.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA):

OSHA requires that records of job-related injuries and illnesses be kept for five years. Employers are also required to fill out and post an annual summary.

In addition, records related to medical exams along with toxic substances and blood-borne pathogen exposure must be retained for thirty years after termination of employment.

ESKRIDGE & ASSOCIATES, Attorneys at Law, may be contacted by phone (310/792-7021), by fax (310/792-7022) or by e-mail ( or Please visit our web site at or

Copied to clipboard