Creating an Employee Personnel File

3 Min Read
Creating an Employee Personnel File

The personnel file is an essential part of any business as it allows you to keep track of employees’ important information.  A personnel file holds documents about people who work at your company.  

Business owners don’t always realize the importance of setting up personnel files for their employees. In most cases, your files are filled with all sorts of documents related to your employees and their work. It can be quite a headache keeping track of everything. However, in order to keep everything organized, you need a clear-cut process.

Having different personnel processes can lead to confusion when it comes time to look for specific information. This problem can be easily solved by creating one central personnel file. Setting up a central personnel file means that you will create one file and add all the necessary information to it.

You may be confused about what should be in an employee file or wondering how long you should keep the information for. In this guide, we’ve created a checklist of all the necessary documents for keeping your employee file up to date.

Ready to dive in?
Start Your Free Trial Today

What is a personnel file?

Personnel file, employee file, or personnel records, are all referring to the same things as a documented record of an employee’s time within the business. Personnel records are often used to track employment history, job duties, and performance history for an employee. 

An employee file contains all the documents that pertain to a person’s employment history. This could include their applications for employment, interview process, records of disciplinary action taken against them, performance evaluations, HR, payroll and records of their leave or sick leave.

A personnel file is a paper or electronic folder

Employee Personnel File Checklist

Let’s look at what should be included in an employee file?

Employee Personnel File

Job Application

Include CV and cover letter sent in for the original application. References Keep a copy of the advert they replied to.


Document education, training, other qualifications along with past employment info.


Full description of role within the company along with responsibilities. Department, manager, team leader etc

Job Offer

Keep a copy of the job offer letter including description, salary and benefits. Also the employment contract.

Health records

Health records must be kept for all employees under health surveillance.

Emergency Contacts

This is critical information that needs to be easily located in case of emergencies.

Training Records

Health and safety training, regulatory training, equipment training


Payroll, and benefits information (not including bank details)


Performance appraisal and reviews.


Any disciplinary action reports and actions.


Employee resignation letter Leaving – Exit interview documentation


Information and documents relevant to employment

Personnel File Data

Employee records and information that are stored in a personnel file, there’s no doubt contain sensitive information that must be handled with extreme care. The last thing you want to happen is for an employee’s personal information to fall into the wrong hands.

How to keep employee personnel records safe? 

Data Safety

Paper Files – If you use paper files, storing them in a lockable cabinet is essential, as locking them can partially protect them from physical theft. Knowing who holds the key and who can have access. Also, not having a full backup of the files if there was a flood or fire.

Digital Files – Storing data online can offer more security for safe data storage; while it’s much safer than physical paper files, a computer network is only as secure as the people who use it and the cyber security methods implemented. Creating a cloud backup can offer protection from physical loss.

Data Access 

External breaches are important to identify, but there is a threat from inside the business. Internal security breaches come in the form of unauthorised access of personnel data.

Access control is essential to protect the data against unauthorised access. Setting out clear permissions of who can have access to what and log when the

Limited Access

Access control is essential to protect the data against unauthorised access. Set clear permissions of who can access what and log when the information is accessed and for what reason.

 Strictly monitoring and limiting access to personnel files reduces the risk of data breaches.

Frequently asked questions
Looking for more info? Here are some things we're commonly asked
Human Resources

Yep, like every other website we also use
delicious cookies to track you.