Many Providers and Provider Management Organizations are unaware they are subject to various business, employment and medical record retention laws.  The chart below outlines basic record retention requirements for healthcare businesses operating in California.

Type of Record

Minimum Retention
Period by Law

Retention Period

Patient Medical Records

Services rendered by licensed* :

  • clinics
  • health facilities
  • adult day health care centers
  • home health agencies

* such entities must preserve patient records even after the licensee ceases operations.

7 years following patient discharge

10 years

  • Services reimbursed by Emergency Services Funds
  • Schedule II drug dispensing and prescribing records

3 years

5 years

Medi-Cal Patients

10 years

10 years

HMO Health Plans
subject to Knox Keene Act

3 years

5 years

Medical records for Workman’s Compensation evaluations

5 years

5 years

Pre-Employment Records

  • Job applications, resumes
  • Applicant identification records
  • Employment referrals
  • Inquiries about employment opportunities
  • Recruitment ads or announcements
  • Announcements of training, promotions or overtime made to employees.

2 years

Duration of employment + 4 years

Wage Records

  • Documentation of hours tracked
  • Schedules
  • Overtime calculations
  • Explanations of wage differentials between genders

3 years

5 years

Payroll Records

  • Employee’s Name, Number, Address, Occupation, Sex, Age
  • Individual Wage Records
  • Time and Day Workweek Begins
  • Regular Hourly or Piece Rate
  • Hours Each Employee worked (daily and weekly)
  • Overtime and Straight Time Earnings Each Week
  • Earning for Each Pay Period
  • Wage Deductions and Additions
  • Dates of each payday and period it covers

4 years

Duration of employment plus 4 years

1-9 Forms

  • Employment Eligibility Forms
  • Verification

3 years or 1 year after termination, whichever is later

Duration of employment plus 4 years

Employee Personnel Files

  • Performance Evaluations
  • Promotions and Demotions Disciplinary Notices
  • Discharge, Layoff, Transfer, and Recall Records
  • Training and Testing Records
  • Records of Physicals

2 years

Duration of employment plus 4 years

Employee Health Records

  • First Aid Records for Injuries Causing Loss of Work Time
  • Chemicals Safety and Exposure Records

First Aid records of job injuries causing loss of work time must be retained for the duration of employment plus three years, records relating to chemical, pesticide and similar exposures must be retained for the duration of employment plus 30 years

Duration or employment plus 5 years for routine injury/illness records; Duration of Employment plus 30 years (Records of exposure to chemical, pesticide, and similar hazards}

Employee Substance Use Records

Drug and Alcohol Test Results

5 years

Duration of employment plus 5 years

Unlawful Employment Practices, Claims, Investigations and Legal Proceedings Records

  • Personnel and Payroll records of all complaining parties
  • Personnel and Payroll records of all those holding or applying for similar positions

Until disposition of case

Until disposition of case and all appeals period have expired

Employment Contracts

  • Union Contracts
  • Employee Contracts

3 years

Indefinitely. (may be relevant if bargaining history is an issue).

Employee Benefits Data

  • Election of Benefits
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Eligibility Determinations
  • Cobra Notices
  • Summary Plan Descriptions and Earnings

6 years, but not less than one year after plan termination

6 years from date of filing annual Plan Year Report

Diversity Hiring Programs

Affirmative Action Programs and Documents

5 years (discretionary)

5 years