In order to comply with regulations and be able to find information quickly when necessary, churches should actually keep several different files for all their employee records. Typically, those files should be:

  • The Personnel File

This file should only contain information that relates to an employee’s job and job-related decisions, such as applications, performance reviews, promotions, and any disciplinary measures. This file should not contain any information about an employee’s age, medical disabilities, race, national origin, or background checks.

  • The I-9 File

Under federal law, every church must complete an I-9 form, the Employment Eligibility Verification, for each employee. This form helps to confirm an employee’s identity and authorization to work in the United States. Each employee must have an I-9 form on record as long as he or she works for the church, and it must be kept in its own folder. Once an employee has been terminated or left the church, the form must be kept for three years from the date an employee was hired or one year after the worker’s employment ended, whichever is longer. After that, the I-9 can be destroyed.

  • The Medical Information File

Churches are required to maintain employee medical information in its own file. This file should contain information about medical history, medical evaluations, Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, workers’ compensation claims, Family and Medical Leave Act requests, and any other information that could relate to health and medical history.

  • The Investigative File

Investigative notes for serious issues, such as allegations of theft, and similar conduct matters should not be included in the official personnel file. Instead, these files should be kept separate and access should be limited to only key personnel and HR staff.

  • Payroll and Related Records

Churches generally maintain payroll and all related information within the separate payroll department records.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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