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Child Working In Office

HR questions for dentists: Employee records, children "working," immigrant volunteers

Feb. 14, 2023
Staying out of legal trouble when it comes to human resources issues can be tricky. HR experts address three questions to help these employers do the right thing.
Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg, Human Resources Experts

Question: I have an overwhelming number of old employee records and personnel files. I’d like to go through and shred anything I don’t need any more and free some space. How long are dentists required to keep employee records? And what if someone was never hired? How long are we required to keep applications and/or resumés? 

Answer from Tim Twigg and Rebecca Boartfield with Bent Ericksen & Associates 

How long you must keep these records depends on the type of record. Laws and statute of limitations vary from one record to the next. Download the record retention document that covers many of the normal records that employers may have for applicants and employees. While not all potential documentation is listed, this will give you a basic idea of what is required so you can reduce your recordkeeping backlog. You will note on this form that, outside of certain safety and OSHA documents, it’s best to keep employee records for the life of the employment relationship plus six to seven years, unless litigation occurs. 

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Question: We have a situation in which an individual, a licensed doctor in Brazil, wants to volunteer in our practice. She is unable to legally work. We want to know if we can use her as a volunteer. What would be our liability if she got hurt? Would it be able to go under workers’ compensation? What are your thoughts on something like this?  

Boartfield and Twigg: Unfortunately, volunteering is not legal in the private sector. If you’re unable to employ her legally, then I recommend you pass on her offer. There could be various avenues for liability: wage and hour, immigration, and the IRS, to name a few. Also, as you mention, if she got hurt on the job, there could be liability with workers' compensation because she should be covered, but she wouldn't be an employee, which could be a red flag for them to possibly report you to other authorities.  It sounds like a great opportunity, but this could become a real mess and we don’t advise it.  

Question: The daughter of one of our employees is 12 and she sometimes comes to office to hang out. This is mostly due to lack of childcare, so our employee needs to watch her during the day. While she’s here, we often have her “work” by scanning documents, filing records, and other miscellaneous tasks around the office. How do we go about getting her on the payroll so that we can pay her for her work? The total time she works is not more than 10 hours a week. 

Boartfield and Twigg: Unfortunately, this is not legal. If she was the business owner’s child, that would be different and would be legal. Since she’s not, 12 is too young to be working in almost every industry. Please check your state’s minor labor laws to ensure compliance with these rules. Going forward, I recommend you not allow this child to work. In addition, I would not put her on the payroll and pay her like an employee. If you want to pay her for the services she already performed, I think the only thing you can do is pay out of yours or the employer’s personal account, much like you would if she mowed the lawn at your house.