January 5, 2005by Israel Foulon LLP
Question: For how long must an employer retain employee records after the employee is no longer employed?
Answer: Requirements for the retention of employee records in Ontario are set out in the Employment Standards Act. The general rule is that employee records are to be retained for three years after the employee ceases to be employed by the employer. The records can be retained by the employer or the employer can arrange for some other person to retain them.
Employee records are important for a number of reasons, in part to protect an employer in the event of a false claim for wages by an employee. Where an employer fails to maintain adequate records as required by the act, the employee’s claim with respect to the hours she worked will generally be accepted. There is, therefore, a heavy burden on employers to make and keep accurate employee records.
The employer is to retain a record of the employee’s name, address and the date on which the employee began her employment for three years after the employee ceases to be employed. If the employee is a student and is under the age of 18, the records are required to be retained until the earlier of three years after the employee’s 18th birthday or three years after the employee ceases to be employed by the employer.
Records must also be retained with respect to the number of hours the employee worked in each day and each week. This information must be retained until three years after the day or week to which the information relates. Employers are also required to retain the information contained in each written statement given to the employee regarding wages and vacation pay for three years after the information was given to the employee. Any documents relating to an employee taking pregnancy, parental or emergency leave must also be retained for three years following the day on which the leave expired.
Peter Israel is the senior partner in the Toronto law firm of Israel Foulon LLP – Employment and Labour Lawyers. He can be reached at 416-640-1550 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this article originally appeared in the Carswell publication, Canadian Employment Law Today