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Question:  Where and for how long should an employer maintain background check results?

Answer: Typically, employers have a couple of choices as it relates to the retention of pre-employment background checks. There is no absolute requirement that background checks be retained if the applicant is hired, and some employers will destroy the background checks once the employee is hired for privacy reasons. Other employers choose to retain the background check information, and the best practice recommendation for maintaining pre-employment background checks and authorizations is to keep these records in a separate confidential file apart from the personnel file.

The information that follows are the federal records retention requirements. Employers should also check the state retention rules and retain the records for the longer time period between the federal and state requirements.

  • For applicants not hired, these records should be maintained for a period of one (1) to two (2) years, depending upon the organization’s size and whether any executive orders or affirmative action statutes apply.
  • For hired employees, the retention requirement is to retain these documents for six (6) years after termination.
  •  If there is any type of legal or regulatory action impacting the former employee, the records should be retained until the employment action is resolved.