How Long to Keep Job Applications You Receive

Advertise an open position in your company, and you probably receive multiple applications. These applications contain the applicant's personal information, including social security numbers, addresses and past employment history. They need to be protected. Not only do you want to prevent identity theft that may result in an expensive lawsuit from the applicant, but you also may need the applications to fill future open positions. You also need to follow federal laws. Instead of tossing job applications after the position is filled, read about several laws that tell you how to handle these applications and the information they contain the right way.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

This federal act prohibits employment discrimination based on color, race, sex, religion or national origin. Part of the act also requires employers to keep job applications associated with permanent positions for at least one year after the application is received. If you're charged with discrimination or unlawful employment practices, keep the job application and any other relevant personnel records until the issue is resolved.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Applicants over the age of 40 cannot be discriminated against according to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It also requires you to retain applications, resumes, applicant test results and referrals for permanent and temporary jobs for one year after you receive them. If the applicant is 40 or older, keep the records for two years.

Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act protects employees from discrimination in the workplace and was specifically written for disabled people. It requires you to keep job applications and related documents for at least one year or until any discrimination charges are resolved.

How to Store Job Applications Properly

Typically, the Human Resources department is responsible for organizing and storing job applications and related documents. Only your company's Human Resources staff and hiring managers should have access to the files. The paperwork should be kept in a locked filing cabinet or other secure location or in an offsite record storage facility. Once the federal requirements for keeping the applications ends, shred the documents or send them to a confidential recycler off-site.

Protect yourself and your small business when you store job applications properly. A little effort and organization can protect you from costly lawsuits that stem from stolen personal information. Proper storage also ensures you are compliant with federal employment laws and have access to information if you're sued for discrimination.
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