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Your Employment Records - Avoiding Fines and Penalties
As a dental office manager, one of your responsibilities is likely to manage employment records. These include an initial application of employment, the employee's resume and references, W-4 and I-9 records, annual reviews, disciplinary memos, notes, garnishments, medical leave, and medical notes.

Depending upon the state in which you operate, there are laws that govern how long you keep employee records. You are also held to federal standards, and there may even be local laws that apply.

Employment Records Management is a critical component of compliance with state and federal laws, and there can be stiff penalties if you are found in non-compliance by DHS or DOL.

Here are some basic guidelines and resources to review:

•  Personnel Files are governed by federal, state, and local laws. Most personnel files should contain: Employee application, Evaluations, Notes, Training Records, Licenses and Certifications, and Emergency Contact Information.
•  Confidential Files are also governed by federal, state, and local laws. These files should contain: Employee I-9 forms*, Garnishments, and Medical Leave/Medical Notes (bloodborne exposure).
•  W-4 Information is governed by the IRS, and should not be included in the personnel file, but should be kept in a separate binder. Records are required to be kept for at least 4 years. For more information from the IRS, click here.
•  I-9 forms verify that your employee is legally able to work in the United States and is governed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This form is tricky because it is illegal to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their immigration status, however, you are penalized for employing an illegal alien.

Many payroll law experts will tell you that this Catch-22 is somewhat resolved by ensuring that you are enrolled as an E-Verify employer, and that your offer letter to a prospective employee state that employment will be available upon a successful background check and I-9 form. There are often DHS audits conducted on small and large businesses, and you should be prepared.

Many employers choose to keep their I-9 forms (along with black and white copies of identification used) in a separate binder, in a locked drawer. Please note that employers are required to keep I-9 Verification Forms for three years after the date of hire, or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.

Penalties for incorrect storage or incomplete lines can range from $110 per form up to $1000 per form, plus additional fines.

*USCIS recommends that employers keep Forms I-9 separate from personnel records to facilitate an inspection request.

Employment Record Resources

Save these links for future reference.

W-4 Information
W-4 Forms
I-9 Information
I-9 Forms
E-Verify SignUp

But Oregon is an At-Will State...

Do you have the following? If you don't, you may be in danger of an post-termination lawsuit, even here in Oregon. The bottom line? If it isn't documented, it didn't happen. If it isn't equitable to all employees (do you have proof that it is?), it doesn't stand up in court.

Job Descriptions
Essential to establish a standard by which to hold employees accountable for discipline.

Employee Handbook
Again, establishes a standard by which to hold employees accountable, and ensures equal treatment of all employees.

This includes coaching notes, written warnings, verbal warnings, and all should be signed by employee.


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