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What Employers Should Know About Record Retention

Under both New York and Federal law employers are required to maintain certain employee records for a certain amount of time. These documents include payroll records, wage and hour records, resumes, reference checks and disciplinary files. It is important for your HR department to be familiar with relevant record retention laws.

New York Law

Under New York State law:

  1. Payroll records must be preserved for six years. New York State law requires that employers maintain payroll records with the name and address, social security number, wage rate, number of hours worked daily and weekly, including the time of arrival and departure of each employee working a split shift or over ten hours, gross wages, deductions, allowances, net wages paid and student classifications.

  2. Workers’ Compensation records must be kept for four years. Employers covered by the New York Workers’ Compensation Law must keep records of the number of employees and their wages. A record of all injuries, fatal or otherwise, sustained by an employee during their employment must be maintained for eighteen years. Records such as these must include the worker’s name and occupation, as well as the time, place, date of the injury and description of how the injury occurred.

Federal law:

Under federal law employers are required to:

  1. Maintain records of employees covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act for one year. Records that must be maintained include application forms, job advertisements, documentation concerning hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination, payroll information, employment handbooks, employee evaluations and requests of reasonable accommodations.

  2. Preserve collective bargaining agreements, job evaluations and work schedules for two years.

  3. Keep payroll records for at least three years. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to keep payroll records which include the employee’s full name and social security number, address, birth date (if younger than 19), sex and occupation, time and day of the week when employee’s workweek begins, hours worked each day, total hours worked each workweek, basis on which employee’s wages are paid (hourly, weekly, or piecework), regular hourly rate, total daily or weekly straight-time earnings, total overtime earnings for the workweek, additions, deductions, total wages paid each pay period and date of payment and pay period covered by payment.

  4. Maintain employee tax records for four years. Tax records include copies of W-2, W-4, W-4P, W-4S and W-4V Forms.


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