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For The Record

File it under "P" -- for protection.

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This story appears in the May 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

They may not be as exciting as the X-Files, but employee personnel files deserve some serious attention. Properly maintained files can protect you in the event of litigation; give you guidance in making promotion, compensation and other management decisions; and, in general, help you run a more efficient organization. In contrast, careless record-keeping can get you in trouble in these same situations.

So what should be kept in an employee's personnel file? Laura M. Smith, an attorney with Wessels & Pautsch PC in St. Charles, Illinois, suggests keeping the following documents in each employee's general file:

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