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A Survival Guide to Employee Recordkeeping

By Rebecca Crane and Tim Twigg
A dentists legal obligation to maintain excellent recordkeeping systems is not limited to his/her patient records. Malpractice lawsuits are not the only liability risk where recordkeeping is concerned; doctors must consider labor board complaints and labor-related lawsuits and the need to protect the practice by ensuring quality recordkeeping standards in the employment arena as well.
Recordkeeping and good documentation are two sides of the same coin. One side is about protection and the other is about compliance. Federal and state laws mandate recordkeeping requirements for employers. Everything from pre-hire to post-termination has some form of recordkeeping requirement to which employers should adhere. Without the necessary documentation, employers are vulnerable to losing lawsuits or having to pay penalties or fines for lack of compliance. Employee records related to hiring, promoting, compensating, training, and disciplining employees, etc., which help guide and ensure sound, defensible employment decisions. Proper documentation, retained in employment records, is useful in justifying your decisions and (hopefully) keeps you from making snap judgments.

Types of Records to Keep

There are many different types of personnel records to keep and, depending on the records, different locations to keep them. Personnel records should be divided into three separate files: the Regular File, the Confidential File, and the Form I-9 File.

The Regular File usually contains the following:

Job application and resum Employment agreement Time and pay records Attendance and leave records Waiver and acknowledgement forms Direct deposit authorization Employee benefit and enrollment form Personnel change forms, such as changes in pay, title, and seniority Performance evaluations Property held by employee, keys, phones, pagers, other practice property Continuing education records Disciplinary actions Promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff, leave, or termination

Work restrictions or accommodation requests and results Employment reference results, records of references provided to other employers after termination Wage garnishment information Credit card information Domestic violence information Documents that identify employees as being in a protected class Veterans status

Form I-9 File:

We recommend a separate file strictly for I-9 forms. If the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audits you, it is best not to give the ICE representative access to your personnel files. The ability to hand over all I-9 forms in a very organized manner also decreases the amount of time it will take for the audit to be completed.

Record Retention Requirements

Federal and most state compliance regulations impose record retention requirements regarding personnel records. In some cases, state requirements exceed those established by the federal government. When addressing this topic in a particular state, it is advisable to contact the appropriate branch of state government regarding its regulations. The length of time required for keeping various records on employees varies with the type of information in the files.
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The Confidential File typically contains the following:

Investigative records of grievances or complaints Workers compensation documents Discrimination charges and related documents Medical information including the results of physical examinations Pre-employment or other drug-test results

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The following are general guidelines for some of the most common forms and information:

Basic information (name, address, date of birth, occupation, rate of pay, SS#, etc.): 3 years from the date of termination. I-9 forms: 3 years after the date employment begins or 1 year after the date when employment is terminated, whichever is longer. Performance reviews: length of employment plus 3 years. Safety records (OSHA Logs, accident reports): 5 years. Hazardous exposure/monitoring reports: 30 years (40 years in New York). Job orders, job postings and/or advertisements to the public and employees relating to job openings, promotions, training, or overtime opportunities: 1 year from the date the record was made or personnel action was taken, whichever is later. Applications and resums for candidates not hired: 1 year minimum, (2 years in California), recommend 3 years. Records relating to hiring (including application and resums), promotion, demotion, transfer and selection for training, layoff, recall, discharge, or termination: 2 years from the date the record was made or personnel action was taken, whichever is later. Information related to leave of absence under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) such as medical certification or time off records: at least 3 years. Tax information (identification info, remuneration paid, date of payment, FICA and FUTA taxes): 4 years. Earnings records: recommend 4 years although payroll records need only be kept 3 years, timecards/sheets 2 years and garnishments/deductions 3 years. Retirement and pension records: pension plan documents and service/eligibility records: permanently; pension payments/ records: 3 years after death; ERISA plan descriptions/summary annual reports (all records pertinent to covered plans): 6 years.
As a general rule of thumb, keep all documents pertaining to employees throughout the employment relationship plus 4 years from the date of termination. If legal action has been taken or is pending, all relevant records must be retained until final disposition.

Employees must be given sufficient time to read the information and documents may not be altered, added, or removed from the file.
The Type of Records Employees May Review

Employees can read any records that are used or previously have been used to determine the employees qualifications for employment, promotion, compensation, termination, or any disciplinary action. This includes items such as employment applications, payroll authorization forms, attendance records, layoff notices, performance reviews, discipline records, etc. These documents should be located in the Employee Regular File. Exceptions to the list of records to which employees have access are the documents contained in the Employee Confidential File.
Copying and Note-Taking

Employees can request a copy of their records or take notes based on their inspection, but employees are not allowed to remove or write notes on any document in their file. Be sure that management personnel supervise the review. In most states employers are only required to provide copies of documents that are part of the employees regular file.

Safeguarding Records
Whether personnel records are maintained in a file cabinet or in a computer database, the physical safety and privacy of personnel records must be secured at all times. Physical safeguards should include locked files and/or special computer access codes. Entry to the files must be strictly limited on an employer-authorized, need-to-know basis.

Discarding and Destroying Records

As identity theft continues to be more of a problem, employers need to take steps to prevent unauthorized use of, or access to, consumer information through proper disposal techniques. In response to this growing need, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has promulgated regulations for the proper destruction of consumer information. Often referred to as the Disposal Rule, consumer information includes (a) consumer reports and (b) information derived from consumer reports, provided the information is individually identifiable. When applying this regulation to employers, it is important to recognize consumer information also refers to notes or documentation relating to obtained consumer information such as a background check. In addition, the Disposal Rule encompasses information in both paper and electronic form. Although employers are required to take reasonable steps during the disposal process, the regulations do not outline specific disposal methods that are to be used. We recommend all paper information be shredded or burned, not tossed into a wastebasket. Reasonable steps must also be taken to remove data or consumer information from all electronic media.

Employee Inspection of Records

Most states have enacted laws giving current and past employees the right to inspect certain documents in their personnel records. Even in those states, the right to inspect may be limited. Here are some typical guidelines pertaining to access and inspection of personnel records:
Employee Request To Review Own Personnel Records Employers can require a written request for each inspection and that an appointment is made for a mutually convenient time when both parties can be present. The employee may request to inspect and/or receive a copy of certain documents in their personnel records based on applicable state laws. The inspection must take place within a reasonable time after the request has been made.

Trojan Today provides a forum for industry professionals to offer a diversity of information and to provide ideas and suggestions in the area of practice management. These articles are meant to be informative and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Trojan Professional Services, Inc.

In Summary
Good recordkeeping is obviously important and highly regulated and, therefore, provides significant exposure to potential liability. Additionally, the quality and comprehensiveness of your records is essential in defending yourself against a personnel-related complaint or lawsuit. A conscientious and compliance-based approach to recordkeeping both prevents problems and becomes your first line of a strong defense.


Q: A:
How do I bill for medical waste disposal? There is no separate ADA code for medical waste disposal. The sterilization, room set up, and medical waste disposal are part of the treatment visit.

Tim Twigg is the president of Bent Ericksen & Associates and Rebecca Crane is a Human Resources Compliance Consultant for Bent Ericksen & Associates. For thirty years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping employers successfully deal with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the companys quarterly newsletter or to learn more, contact them at 800.679.2760, or

Response provided by Kathleen Johnson, President of Kathleen Johnson Consulting, Inc.

SMILE for Cancer Check

By Jonathan A. Bregman, DDS, FAGD
Oral cancer is something that has stayed below the radar of the public; it is not known nor understood by the majority of non-dental health care providers. There is not the level of awareness or understanding of the necessity of self-exam as there is for breast cancer, for example. For that reason, I have created a very simple way for the public to be able to save their own lives through awareness of their own oral health, with S.M.I.L.E.-Mirror and through the website Along with self-awareness of the need for self-exam is the clear message about the importance of seeing ones dentist twice per year for an oral cancer screening as well.
Use of your S.M.I.L.E.-Mirror

S: M: I : L : E:

Stick out your tongue Move your tongue side to side Inspect the back and roof of your mouth Lift up your tongue and look under it Examine your gums around your teeth plus lips and cheeks

If you see something abnormal, wait 2-3 weeks, look again. If it is still there, go see your dentist. And remember, what you dont know about your mouth can kill you!! To get additional smile-mirrors and for a video demonstration of the S.M.I.L.E.-Mirror go to:

An oral cancer self-examination looks for abnormalities (white patches, red patches, bumps, lumps, or ulcers). You, as a patient, need to: S.M.I.L.E. once per month for yourself and twice per year for your dentistfor early detection of oral cancer!

Jonathan A. Bregman, DDS, FAGD, is a clinician, speaker, author, trainer, and dentist-to-dentist success coach. Dr. Bregman has personally led successful dental practices for more than 30 years, worked as a part time Adjunct Faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry as well as faculty at the University of North Carolina Hospital Dental Clinic. FMI:, or

Trojan Today provides a forum for industry professionals to offer a diversity of information and to provide ideas and suggestions in the area of practice management. These articles are meant to be informative and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Trojan Professional Services, Inc.


How will Dentists & Dental Coding be Affected by 5010 & ICD-10?
Once 5010 was implemented on January 1, 2012, providers were no longer able to use PO Box and lock box addresses as billing provider addresses. This rule applied to both professional and institutional claims. However, you can still use a PO Box or lock box address as the location for payments and correspondence from payers. You will need to report that location as a pay to provider address with each payer. This only impacts offices that use a PO Box on their electronic claims as an address for their location. The code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature produced by the American Dental Association (ADA) is the coding used by dentists. Any claim submitted on a HIPAA standard electronic claim must use dental procedure codes from the version of the Code in effect on the date of service. ICD-10 stands for International Statistical Classification of Diseases. There has been no coding change for the ADA. However, for a surgical procedure that would be medically warranted, ICD-10 coding would be required. Implementation of ICD-10 has already been delayed. On February 16, 2012 the US Department of Health and Human Services announced their intent to delay the adoption of ICD-10 beyond the previous deadline of October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014.

ADA, San Francisco October 18-20, 2012 Booth #541 Moscone Convention Center San Francisco, CA Greater NY Dental Meeting November 25-28, 2012 Booth #212 Javitz Convention Center New York, NY

November 22-23 Thanksgiving

T e s t i m o n i a l
We have used Trojan Collection Services for over 8 years with good results. They have helped me collect over $25,000 in bad debt. They are so easy to use. Cindy Munro Business Manager

Trojans mission is to employ

exceptional people, give superior service, and provide a positive work environment.

in good health is a To keep the bodywe shall not be able duty, otherwise to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha




Phone: 1-800-451-9723 E-mail: Published monthly by Trojan Professional Services, Inc., 4410 Cerritos Avenue, P.O. Box 1270, Los Alamitos, CA 90720 and distributed to members of the dental profession. Statements of opinion in Trojan Today do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Trojan Professional Services, Inc. or the Editor. Trojan Today is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matters discussed. Neither Trojan Professional Services, Inc., Trojan Today, its editor or staff assume any liability in connection with the use or implementation of any policies or procedures discussed in this newsletter. Trojan Today is distributed as a newsletter and with the understanding that neither the publisher, the editor or the staff is rendering professional or legal services of any kind. If legal or professional advice of any other kind is required in connection with topics discussed in this newsletter, competent advice should be sought. President Ingrid Kidd Goldfarb Editor Romalyn Tilghman Publication Coordination Susan DiGiambattista Graphic Production Moller Creative Group Copyright 2012, Trojan Professional Services, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission.