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Startups And Compliance: Which Employee Documents to Keep

Posted by Early Growth

May 19, 2015    |     3-minute read (603 words)

This guest post was contributed by Justworks.

In an age of email, Google Drive, and Dropbox, our files tend to be scattered everywhere. Rarely are they where we need them when we need them, but most of the time that’s okay. When you’re starting a company though, there are a few employee documents you are legally required to keep and a few we would strongly encourage you to keep.

Documents you have to keep


This is the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. This document tells you how much federal income tax to withhold from each employee’s paycheck.


This is the Employee Eligibility Verification Form I-9. This is needed to prove that all of your employees are eligible to work in the US. The USCIS (immigration services) can request these files at any time, and you need to keep them for at least 3 years.

Employment Application

You should keep all documents associated with an employee's job application. The Age Employment and Discrimination Act of 1967 (ADEA) requires you to keep it for up to 1 year after the employee is hired.

Certain employee data

According to the Social Security Act, you need to hold onto all employee names, SSNs, addresses (including zip code) for at least 4 years. You also need to keep date of birth, gender, occupation, and marital status for at least 3 years according to the Age Discrimination Act and the FLSA Equal Pay Act.

Documents you really should have

Offer letter and/or employment contract

This is what establishes your relationship with an employee. It’s good to have and handy to refer back to when negotiating with your employee.

Changes to initial offer or employment contract

If you amend an employee’s responsibilities, salary or equity, we’d advise getting it in writing and having both parties sign a copy. This will help establish clear expectations in your working relationship.

Proprietary Information and Non-Competition Agreement

This kind of agreement will help protect your confidential data and will establish ownership of intellectual property. Have them sign it and add it to the files.

Job description

Some employers like to create a job score card that goes into a level of detail beyond the offer letter. We’d suggest keeping this for both your and the employee’s reference when performance reviews roll around. Speaking of which…

Performance Reviews

Keeping a copy of these will help you understand how an employee is doing over time. We’d also suggest sharing this with employees to help them see the same progression.

Stock Option Grant

If you’re a startup, you’ll probably need this. Most startups give their employees equity and it’s important to keep an record of the quantity and exercise price for each grant.

If you use Justworks, we'd suggest keeping all of these documents in your Doc Center. The Doc Center allows you to assign documents to specific employees. You can also share documents such as your employee handbook across the entire organization.

Justworks is a technology platform that helps entrepreneurs grow and manage their businesses by offering a comprehensive one-stop-shop approach for self-service payroll, compliance, and benefits (including health insurance, commuter benefits, and 401k).

Do you need guidance on how accounting rule changes impact your SaaS business' financials? Tell us in the


section below or contact 
Early Growth Financial Services for accounting support.

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