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2019—It’s Time to Purge Those Records—Or is it?

 A new year always brings about change, and when it comes to which records you keep or toss at the office can sometimes be a challenge. 

Federal records and The Uniform Preservation of Private Business Records Act (UPPBRA) states that records should generally be kept for a period of three years. But sometimes you cannot find a clear-cut answer for how long you should keep certain records. 

Things can get a bit opaque if you don't have any information available to you and you don't want to purge your old records without being certain; you also don't want to keep records longer than needed "just because," so what do you do?

If you can't find an answer it could mean that the records in question should be kept permanently, but to be safe, do your research. Document all resources used during your research whether you fall back on permanently keeping the records or you lean more toward the three-year time period for records purging. This will ensure you will likely avoid any penalties should an audit or court case crop up. 

You can also check with your attorney or CPA because laws differ from state-to-state. Another great resource would be reaching out to a local Human Resource company such as Stellaris Group in Marietta, Georgia and have them review (or help you create) a Records Retention Schedule and time frame for record keeping or purging since they are always current on new and changing federal and state laws.

As of 2019, the following information offers a basic guideline of what to keep and what to toss after a certain amount of time. But again, to be sure, check with a local HR company, your attorney, or your CPA.

A three-year time frame applies to most, with the exception of the following:

USERRA Leave Records Permanent
Toxic and Bloodborne Pathogens Records - 30 Years
Job Related Injuries and Illnesses Records - 5 Years

Intellectual Property Ownership/Nondisclosure - 5 Years
Separation Agreement - 5 Years
Unemployment Claims Records - 4 Years

* Note: If applicant is not hired, keep records for three (3) years.

401 (k) Allocation Records - 4 Years
Pension Eligibility Records - 50 Years
Request for Calculation - 4 Years
Retirement Beneficiary Form - 50 Years

Paychecks/Stubs, W-2s-W-4; Earnings Register;
Employee Withholding - 4 Years
Federal and State Payroll Tax Forms - 4 Years
Federal Forms 1099 - 4 Years
Time Sheets and Cards - 4 Years
Computer Loan Agreement - 5 Years
Direct Deposit Records - 4 Years
Garnishment Records - 4 Years
Final Payroll Deduction Checklist - 4 Years

EEO-1 Reports Permanent
HR Policies (current) - 3 Years
Affirmative Action Plans and Records - 5 Years
Form 5500 - 6 Years
OSHA 300/300A - 5 Years
VETS- 4212 Reports - 5 Years

The above serves as a general guideline, but to recap: When in doubt, always check with someone who stays current with federal and state laws because they can and do change. Stellaris Group in Marietta has a team of HR professionals who can help guide you in the right direction when it comes to all facets of day-to-day office management and they will always lead you in the right direction.

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