Resources: Blogs

Who holds the record?


Record keeping basics for human resources

No profession loves hard copies of records more than lawyers – but it is often human resources who have the most to do with record keeping, particularly in relation to retaining employee records.

No profession loves hard copies of records more than lawyers – but it is often human resources who have the most to do with record keeping, particularly in relation to retaining employee records.

What are the basic records which should be kept for employees?

There are records which employers are required to keep in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). These records include, but are not limited, to the nature of the employment, commencement date, pay, overtime, leave records, superannuation and the termination of employment.

Ideally, employee records should reflect the employee lifecycle from beginning to end, so that employers have an accurate record of the employment relationship.

The record of an employee’s commencement of employment is crucial because it is at the start of the lifecycle where a flurry of documentation is created which needs to be retained.

Indeed, employers start collecting information about prospective employees during the recruitment process. It is at this stage that a prospective employee will send in their resume or CV, a copy of their qualifications and other information, such as working with children clearances, which may be required for the role. Some employers may also require candidates to complete applications for employment which contain relevant information about the person’s background and experience. It is important to retain this information for the pre-employment check process, in order to verify qualifications and clearances (and have a record that such checks were conducted). These records may also be useful if it is later discovered that the employee was less than truthful during the recruitment process.

The employment offer and the acceptance of the offer should also remain on file, together with any new contracts or variations that are agreed with the employee during the course of the employment.

Upon commencement, employees usually complete an onboarding and induction process. The induction of new employees is critical for compliance reasons – and so a record of the induction should be kept to show that the employee was properly instructed and trained into a safe system of work.

It is during employment, when HR has less direct involvement with the employee, that employee records can often be scant or incomplete. HR should impress upon managers the importance of keeping records of any training completed by employees, performance appraisals and performance management discussions – informal and formal. These records are often crucial when a decision needs to be made about the employee’s employment or when those records need to be relied upon if there is a claim, for example, of unfair dismissal or adverse action.

Paperless record keeping

Most businesses have embraced electronic document management systems as a means of keeping employee records. Gone are the days where personnel files were in folders kept in cupboards under lock and key, guarded by HR. However, just because files are not there physically does not mean that good record keeping practices should not be maintained.

As with all paperless systems, it is important that employee records created are retained. This may mean that some time is spent in setting up processes for capturing all information relating to employees from across the business. Managers who usually correspond directly with their direct reports should ensure that a copy is also sent to HR so that a copy is retained on the employee’s file. It will be of little use if a manager’s email to an employee about performance concerns, or record of discussion between a manager and employee about conduct is not kept on the employee’s file.

By setting up your employee record system to reflect the different stages in the employment lifecycle, employers are assured of capturing all information relevant to the employee and will be able to retrieve and rely on such information if required.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

FWO secures penalties against bar operator and external accounting firm

Closing time

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) requires employers to keep certain employee records for a period of 7 years. These records are necessary to ensure that employees have been paid their minimum entitlements should an underpayment claim be made.


Employer went “above and beyond” to accommodate employee’s flexible work arrangement

You just got slapped

One of the effects of the amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) which came into effect on 6 June 2023 is that employers now have greater obligations when responding to requests for flexible working arrangements made under s 65 of the FW Act.


Protecting Worker Entitlements - Further changes introduced to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

On 22 June 2023, the Federal Government passed the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 (Cth). The Amendment Act introduces a number of changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) aimed at protecting worker entitlements, promoting gender equality and delivering reforms to improve fairness in the workplace relations system.


Commission confirms inappropriate touching constituted sexual harassment warranting summary dismissal

‘Scuse you

Sexual harassment in the workplace has been the subject of significant reform over the past few years, with an even greater onus on employers now to take proactive measures to minimise or eliminate the risk of sexual harassment in connection with work.


Employers delay sinks bid for injunctive relief

Speak now

When seeking to enforce a restraint, it is important that employers seek to enforce the restraint in a timely manner to prevent future or an ongoing breach. Any delay will be considered by the courts when assessing whether it is reasonable to enforce the restraint.


Two-year post-employment restraint on hairdresser found to be unreasonable

Splitting hairs

When it comes to drafting post-employment restraints in employment contracts, it is important for employers to consider the purpose of the restraint and whether or not the restraint reasonably serves that purpose.


Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Sign up to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to your inbox.