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    How Long To Keep Workers’ Compensation Records

    The standards for keeping workers' comp records differ based on the state in which your company operates. Each state maintains its own no-fault workers' compensation system, with the exception of federal personnel. The duration of workers’ comp record retention also varies depending on the employee's case. Thus, it's crucial to understand the reasons behind the need to keep workers’ comp records and how these relate to various circumstances.

    Injury Records

    The state's workers' comp division and the U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration are in charge of workers' injury compensation. Being the federal government's watchdog for workplace safety, OSHA requires that any injuries on the job be reported regularly on a form called the OSHA 301 Incident Report, which is summarized on the OSHA 300 log.

    FMLA and ADA

    Because workers' compensation cases sometimes involve FMLA and ADA issues, the requirements that these agencies have for keeping records can affect workers' comp records. Employers with 20 or more workers should keep FMLA and ADA records for three years. To be eligible for FMLA, a company must have at least 50 employees at one location or multiple locations within 100 miles.

    Record Retention

    There are variations in the standard duration of keeping workers’ compensation records retention by state. Workers' comp records must be preserved for 30 years in Wisconsin, for example, while in Arizona, the Industrial Commission of Arizona Claims Divisions manages a "file of record" of all workers' compensation claims but requires employers to follow OSHA medical records requirements.

    When No Law Exists

    The workers’ compensation records retention by state is governed by state laws, and some states don't specify a time limit for workers' comp claim records. If such is the case in your state, a good rule of thumb suggested by HR specialists is to keep accident reports and settlements for seven years and to archive insurance accident claims for 11 years.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    If you need more information that can help you determine the duration of workers’ comp record retention, you might find the answers to these common questions useful.

    How long does OSHA require records to be kept?

    OSHA requires employers to keep the OSHA 301 Incident Report, the OSHA 300 log, the OSHA annual summary, and a privacy case list for five years after the original year. Records of injuries related to toxic compounds or blood-borne infections must be kept for 30 years after termination.

    How long should employment records be kept, and why?

    Employers are required by EEOC regulations to maintain all personnel or employment records for one year, whether or not the employee is terminated involuntarily. If an EEOC charge is brought against your organization, these records will be necessary for the investigation process.

    How long should HR documents be kept?

    Under the Fair Labor and Standards Act, the Department of Labor requires that all HR documents, including payroll records, sales records, and purchase records, be kept for at least three years.

    Can the IRS go back more than 10 years?

    The IRS can usually look at returns filed during the last three years. If they discover a significant error, they may have to add extra years. Although they usually don't go back more than six years, ten years or even longer is possible, depending on the case. 

    What is the IRS 6-year rule?

    The IRS conducts audits as quickly as possible once tax returns are submitted. If your return includes a significant underestimate of income — that is, omitting more than 25% of your gross income — the statute of limitations is six years. Take note that the process may be extended further based on the audit results.

    Keeping records is important in almost all legal situations — this includes workers' comp records. Having these records on file increases your chances of getting benefits, and if you have a disagreement with the insurance company, you will have the proof you need to back up your claim. For more expert advice on protecting your business, check out the resources on Assured Standard now.

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