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Latest News / Managing Your Business

How to maintain employee records

Employee records are an important part of your business. By keeping your business records in order, you will be more efficient in managing your business, as well as avoiding potential lawsuits.

Navigating the ins and outs of employee records can require a bit of research, and the rules are strict. So here’s a few things to remember when you’re faced with any employee records question.

Maintaining employee records

Firstly,  if the records are required to be kept, under the Fair Work Act, they must be kept for seven years. While you aren’t required by law to hold a paper copy of the records, implementing a company policy to hold a paper and digital copy lowers the risk of losing the files.

Secondly, you are not allowed nor able to alter an employee’s record. What’s more, if there is a belief you have illegally changed the employee record, holding two versions of the file will allay suspicions.

In maintaining pay records, you should have proof of rate of pay, how much an employee was paid, as well as any additional information regarding incentives and bonuses.

Inspecting employee records

Employee records should be confidential, only accessible by HR managers or those of corresponding rank. However, employees, former employees, or people representing them are able to request a copy of their record. If an employee or former employee asks for these records they should have the ability to access them. While they may not be entitled to view the whole document, they may be granted access to a section of it.

Additionally, the Fair Work Ombudsman has the ability to access to records for purposes of inspection and copying.

As an employer, you have the right to ask employees for files that may be missing from your records.

Access to employee records by union representatives

If a union representative asks for access to an employee’s file, they are within their rights as long as it is regarding a member of their union. Furthermore, the record must be pertinent to a potential breach of the Fair Work Act. They are also required to give 24 hours notice in order to access such records.

Completing & storing timesheets

Under the Fair Work Act, staff are not required to fill in time sheets, however employers must keep records about their staff. This includes their pay, leave, overtime, employment type, and details.

Penalties for employee record keeping non-compliance

In relation to employee records, the fine for non-compliance with the Fair Work Act could be up to $25,500 for a company. For an individual, the fine could reach $5,100. If a company fails to follow Fair Work Regulations for record-keeping or pay slips the Ombudsman could get involved. They are allowed to act within a year of the breach, and can issue fines of up to $2,550 for a company or up to $510 for an individual. These must be paid within a month (28 days) of notification.

The rules around accessing meeting notes

If an employee asks for notes taken during a performance meeting, a company is under no onus to provide them. While it is possible they may be unearthed if the matter went to court, without reason an employee should not require them. Despite this, demonstrating an eagerness to help the employee with a more specific query is a show of good faith.

Employee record keeping when transferring a business

If a new employer is taking over from an old one, the previous employer must dispense employee records. The new employer must ask for these records and they must be transferred. This could happen upon:

  • Transfer of assets
  • Work outsourcing or “in-sourcing”
  • When the worker makes their transferral


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