Records Retention

You need record retention guidelines – from organizing personnel files and electronic records retention policies to control document management and more.

Business Management Daily provides personnel records retention guidelines, helping you to improve your hard-copy and electronic record retention.

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Each year, new employment laws go on the books and courts write thousands upon thousands of decisions interpreting old laws. Yet, year after year, many HR professionals reach up onto a dusty shelf to hand new employees the same old employee handbook someone wrote years ago—too often without a second of consideration whether the contents still pass legal muster.

Most employees go after records or attack your record-keeping practices when they initiate lawsuits.  Most lawsuits in this area center on poor references by managers, the collection of inappropriate records, or the release of sensitive information to an unauthorized person.

Nowadays, IRS auditors ask for your electronic accounting records. But software files often contain data beyond the audit years, and software programs routinely create metadata for every data file created. So how do you keep the IRS from snooping around the personal and confidential business informations contained in those files?

In the name of organization, HR professionals and managers alike have been known to accidentally discard a document, whether paper or electronic, that they shouldn't have. Therefore, in your quest to clean out overflowing file cabinets or e-mail inboxes, take your time.

A records retention schedule ensures that an organization keeps the records it needs for operational, legal, fiscal or historical reasons, and then destroys them when they're no longer useful. You have to know what you have and how long to keep it—legally and for your own business purposes—before you can establish an efficient records management system.

Employers and HR professionals hear it all the time: You must be prepared to preserve relevant documents and produce them if you are sued. You can take some preparatory steps to ensure that you can comply with inevitable litigation holds and are proficiently primed to assist your attorneys should litigation occur. This list of 22 to-do’s can guide your document and data preservation and retention procedures:

"Out with the old, in with the new!" chant managers as they dispose of documents that have accumulated in their office throughout the year. But, in your quest to keep a clean, organized desk, you might run the risk of getting rid of documents you must keep under the law.
Supervisors can learn a lot from others' mistakes, particularly when it comes to employment law issues. Here are four recent court decisions that provide lessons on how supervisors can keep their organizations (and themselves) out of legal hot water.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S., and much of it revolves around the workplace. Employers must erect legal defenses, including safeguarding employees' Social Security numbers, as prescribed by many state statutes.
Medical records are among the most sensitive documents employers maintain in personnel files. They must be afforded the utmost protection, so no transgressions arise regarding the ADA, HIPAA, the FMLA and other similar medically-sensitive federal and state regulations.