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New Year’s Resolution Three; Review Your Personnel Files

Over the last few weeks we’ve been bringing you our recommended New Year’s resolutions to get your employment documentation in top shape.  So far, we’ve covered reviewing your employment contracts and your staff handbook, which are key documents in any employment relationship.  We hope you’ve found these useful to bring clarity and protection to your business. 

This week’s business New Year’s resolution to get your employment documentation in top shape is to review your personnel files.  All staff should have a personnel file but, in our experience, the contents of these vary from business to business.  So read our top tips below for what they should contain.

1.  The starting point should be pre-employment documentation.  Make sure you have the employee’s CV or application form, interview notes and copies of references received.  Keep a copy of the initial offer of employment too.  You never know when you may need to refer back to these.

2.  The second should be a copy of the employee’s contract of employment as this will set out the main terms and conditions of their employment.  It is a legal requirement to provide staff with written terms and conditions of employment within the first two months of employment.  Also, make sure the copy on file is signed to confirm the employee has read and understood the contents.

3.  Up next, what we would call new starter information.  Make sure you have personal contact details, next of kin information, copies of ID and bank details.  Ask and retain a copy of their P.45 or P.60.  If their duties involve driving a vehicle, take a copy of their driving licence.  

4.  Have an induction checklist to run through with your employee on their first day of employment.  This can evidence that you have informed them of important information such as facilities on site, evacuation procedures, first aiders in the building, security codes and induction training given.

5.  If staff are issued with company property, such as a uniform, PPE, mobile telephone, laptop, building keys, security passes or vehicle, have a company property form which details the property issued to the employee.  This form can also act as a declaration that the employee will keep any such property safe, in a good state of repair and will notify you of any loss or damage caused.

6.  Performance information should also be retained on file.  We’d recommend all new starters are subject to a probationary period.  If concerns over performance arise, make sure these are evidenced on the file.  Copies of subsequent performance appraisals should also be kept on file.

7.  Sickness absence records must always be kept on a personnel file.  Documentation may include completed self-certification forms, fit notes and letters relating to the employee’s absences.  If absence levels become a concern, have documentary evidence of the absence record together with any discussions you have with the employee relating to the same.

8.  It’s always a good idea to have records of an employee’s annual leave.  Evidence such as holiday request forms, holiday approval or rejection forms and a running total of annual leave taken and remaining for the year will all be helpful in the event a dispute should arise.  

9.  In addition to annual leave and sickness absence, keep records of other forms of absence.  This may include unpaid leave, family-friendly leave, compassionate leave or other leave such as jury duty.  You never know when these records may come in handy.

10.  Finally, ensure you keep detailed documentary evidence of any disciplinary action taken.  This may include evidence gathered, disciplinary invites, notes of meetings held, outcome letters and any appeal documentation.  Even where a written warning has expired, you should retain the relevant documentation on the employee’s file.

Once you have personnel files in place, limit who has access to them and ensure the personal data you process and retain is in keeping with your legal duties under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Here at SCE Solicitors, we understand business and support our clients in managing their employment relationships.  If you would like to your personnel files, induction records, or have any other enquiries relating to your employment documentation, please contact me on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

If you would like to be kept up to date with employment law and dispute resolution updates, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here. 

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