Recordkeeping for Employee Compensation Purposes: Wisconsin
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Daniel D. Barker, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
- For the most part, Wisconsin law tracks the federal law regarding the recordkeeping requirements related to employee's wages and hours. It is, however, more comprehensive in some regards. See Basic Recordkeeping Requirements.
- All current and past employees, or their designated representatives, are entitled to request and review certain personnel documents. See Employee Right of Review Requirements.
- Wisconsin has adopted certain requirements for the disposal of personal information by financial institutions, medical businesses, tax preparation organizations, and their contractors. Although these requirements are not technically an employment law, employers are well-advised to treat all personnel-related information as highly sensitive and subject to careful disposal. See Requirements for the Disposal of Personal Information.
Basic Recordkeeping Requirements
Wisconsin employers must maintain for at least three years records for each employee that contain the following:
- Name and address;
- Date of birth;
- Date of hiring and termination;
- Starting and ending times of work for each day;
- Beginning and ending of meal periods (when deducted from work time);
- Total number of hours worked per day and per workweek (unless the employee is a) exempt from Wisconsin's overtime requirements (see Employee Classification: Wisconsin > Overtime Exemptions), b) not compensated on an hourly rate basis and c) not covered by a collective bargaining agreement that necessitates tracking exempt employees' hours and has not expired or been extended, modified or renewed after April 16, 2014);
- Regular hourly rate of pay;
- Total wages paid each pay period;
- The amount of and reason for each deduction from wages earned; and
- The output of the employee, if he or she is paid according to output instead of by the hour.
These records must be kept safe and be easily accessible to employees either at the place of employment, or at an established central recordkeeping office within the state, and be available for inspection by the Department of Workforce Development during regular business hours.
Federal recordkeeping provisions require that certain records be kept only for nonexempt employees. However, with the exception of hours worked, Wisconsin requires that these records be kept for all employees, whether they are exempt from overtime or not.
Tip Credit Recordkeeping Requirements
Employers that wish to claim a minimum wage tip credit must obtain a signed tip declaration for each pay period that the minimum wage tip credit is taken. The payroll records must also show that any required Social Security or taxes have been withheld each pay period to show that, when adding the tips received to the wages paid by the employer, no less than the minimum rate was received by the employee. +Wis. Admin. Code DWD 272.03(2)(b).
Employee Right of Review Requirements
In Wisconsin, all current and past employees, or their designated representatives, are entitled to request and review the following personnel documents:
- Documents used to determine employee qualifications;
- Documents related to employee discipline and termination;
- Documents related to employee compensation, transfer, and promotion; and
- Medical records (if the employer believes inspection of an employee's medical records would have a detrimental effect, the employer may arrange to have the records released through a physician).
Employers may require that these requests be made in writing and must grant at least two requests by an employee in a calendar year, unless otherwise provided in a collective bargaining agreement. On request, the employer has seven working days to make the records available for inspection. Inspections are to take place at a location reasonably near the employee's place of employment and during normal working hours. If the inspection during normal working hours would require an employee to take time off from work with that employer, the employer may provide some other reasonable time for the inspection. In any case, the employer may allow the inspection to take place at a time other than working hours or at a place other than where the records are maintained if that time or place would be more convenient for the employee.
Documents Not Open to Review
Neither employees, nor their designated representatives are entitled to review documents relating to the following:
- Records relating to possible criminal offenses;
- Letters of reference;
- Any test document, except for cumulative scores;
- Materials used by the employer for staff management planning, including judgments or recommendations related to salary increases or other wage treatments, management bonus plans, promotions and job assignments, and any other comments or ratings used for planning purposes;
- Information about another person that is personal in nature and for which disclosure would result in an invasion of privacy; or
- Any record relevant to a pending judicial claim that may be discovered by a judicial proceeding.
Requirements for the Disposal of Personal Information
Wisconsin has adopted certain requirements for the disposal of personal information by financial institutions, medical businesses, tax preparation organizations, and their contractors. +Wis. Stat. § 134.97(2). Although these requirements are not technically an employment law, employers are well-advised to treat all personnel-related information as highly sensitive and subject to careful disposal. To properly dispose of records, covered organizations must:
- Shred the record;
- Erase the personal information contained in the record;
- Modify the record to make the personal information unreadable; or
- Take actions that they reasonably believe will ensure that no unauthorized person will have access to the personal information contained in the record for the period between the record's disposal and the record's destruction.
Failure to properly destroy records subjects an employer to civil liability, fines and even imprisonment.
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