Q: What documents must be kept in a former employee’s personnel file and where should they be kept?
A: The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) sets the minimum retention periods for former employees’ files.
While actual retention periods vary based on file type, there are two common categories to divide the schedules into: up to five years following termination and 75 years or more.
Dividing personnel documents into these two categories allows for easier administration of purging documents. Instead of needing to purge items each year, a single purge can be done after five years.
The following items must be kept beyond five years:
- Teacher performance appraisal records and associated grievance and response documents
- Employee service records and associated affidavits
- Leave records containing the unused accumulated sick leave if all or percentage is used to calculate length of service and/or is creditable to an employee if rehired
- Medical and exposure reports for employees exposed in the course of their work to toxic substances, harmful physical agents, or blood borne pathogens
- Pension and deferred compensation records
- Teacher certificate registers—this was a standard record of county superintendents of schools, but it was also maintained in some independent school districts in years prior to the emergence of a formal Teacher Service Record
The location of files can aide in the transition and eventual purge of personnel documents. During the first couple of years after an employee’s separation of service, files will need to be accessible to respond to requests related to service records and employment verification.
After this point, files can be relocated in a less prominent storage area because it’s unlikely they’ll need to be accessed frequently. After five years, documents without a long-term retention period will be removed.