All employers are required to maintain employee records. It makes good business sense to organize employee data for easy access. Employers should take necessary precautions to retain and store employee information. This includes protecting employee privacy by limiting access to that information to only those people with the right and necessity to have it.
The Ontario Employment Standards Act requires employers to keep accurate, complete and up-to-date employee records, including:
Specific timelines apply to certain types of information. In general, the employer must retain this information for a period of three years after the employment relationship is terminated. Information related to the employee’s date of birth must be retained until either three years after the employee’s 18th birthday or three years after termination, whichever comes first. Separate statutes pertain to the requirements regarding corporate and accounting records. Bear in mind that the information above may not provide the full extent of an employer’s record retention obligations.
It is strongly recommended that you establish a separate file for each employee. When organizing an employee’s files, try to organize the information chronologically. The employee’s file should include:
At some point in the future, you may need to justify an employment-related decision (for example, involuntary termination). A well-documented employee file may help to support that decision.
While Ontario has not yet introduced private-sector privacy legislation, it is likely that it will do so in the future. Therefore, as a start-up, ensure that safeguards are in place to protect the collection, use and disclosure of sensitive employee information. Consider the following guidelines to protect employee privacy:
Note: The information above provides a summary only. It is not intended to be an exhaustive discussion of employee records pursuant to applicable law and should not be taken as legal advice. Readers should review the full text of the Employment Standards Act and seek legal advice for more detail. If you are outside of Ontario, consult applicable employment standards legislation and seek legal advice with respect to your jurisdiction.
Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2009 from Ministry of Labour website, http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/guide.