If you're an employer, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires you to keep certain records concerning employees, says John Copeland, director of the National Center for Agricultural Law Research and Information.

Although the Department of Labor doesn't mandate the form in which you keep employee records, the agency does outline the specific information that your operation must archive.

"Insufficient employer records is no defense to an alleged wage-and-hour law violation," Copeland says. "In fact, failure to keep accurate records creates a presumption favoring the employee that a violation did occur."

Copeland notes that you must keep the following information on file for each employee:

  • Employee's full name, including any identifying name or symbol used in place of the name on any records.
  • Home address including zip code.
  • Date of birth if employee is less than 19 years old.
  • Employee's gender and the occupation in which employed.
  • Time of day and the day of week on which the employee's work week begins.
  • Regular hourly pay rate and the basis on which wages are paid.
  • Hours worked each workday and total hours worked each work week.
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings or wages.
  • Total weekly premium pay for overtime hours worked.
  • Total additions to or deductions from wages paid each pay period.
  • Total wages paid each pay period.
  • Date of compensation payment and the pay period covered.

Records must be kept for three years. Keep time cards, earning cards or any other records that contain daily starting and ending times when those amounts determine employee wages. Also keep records reflecting wage deductions and any additions.