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What content belongs in employee personnel files?

The personnel file is the employees and the employers complete record of their relationship together. It contains a history from job application right the way through to the exit interview, termination of employment or even retirement.

Needless to say, the personnel file is highly confidential. Access should be limited to certain members of the HR department and their managers exclusively. The employee should only have selected and controlled access to the file.

Due to the confidentiality of its contents, the employee personnel file should be locked away unless in use. Ideally, HR files should be in a digital format and stored securely either online or on a server. Digital HR records have a significant advantage over paper records including tightened security, being fully backed up, improving access time / control and reducing needless floor and shelf space. With the employee personnel file being some of the most frequently accessed, paper-based HR records really are becoming an out of date idea with a recent study showing 77 percent of HR Departments are successfully on their way to going paperless.


Most common pieces of paper found in an employee personnel file


Recruitment Stage

  • Job description/copy of advert
  • Job application and covering letter
  • CV/Resume
  • Interview notes and scoring
  • Written references and supporting documents
  • References and employment verification
  • Offer letters/acceptance letters


During Employment

  • Signed staff handbook
  • Emergency contact details
  • Tax codes and statements
  • Relocation agreements and supporting documents
  • Probation documents
  • Any contracts
  • Leave records


Performance & Development

  • Appraisals and personal development plans (pdp)
  • Attendance notes
  • Qualification records both internal and external
  • Certifications
  • Training requests and records
  • Expenses
  • Competency assessments
  • Promotion documents
  • Complaints both from and to the employee
  • Disciplinary actions



  • Resignation letters
  • Termination of employment documentation
  • Exit interview documents
  • Any financial records for pay, settlements, holiday etc.


There can be an almost overwhelming number of documents in an employee personnel file. For a long serving member of staff, the number of documents could easily approach 100 or more. If you are still managing your files in this way, why not give us a call? We have worked with some of the UK's most well-known names to help them get on top of their HR documentation.


Find out more by speaking to one of our specialists:

0333 060 3257

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