Why and How to Establish a Records Retention Policy for Your Staff FilesDecember 18, 2008 — 2,504 views
When it comes to retaining personnel records of any sort, some people may panic as it can be very overwhelming trying to decipher the different records retention requirements. The best way to go about ensuring that your organization is compliant with the state and federal record retention requirements is to develop a policy surrounding personnel records retention.
Even though there may be some rules and regulations surrounding how long you must legally retain staff records, particularly after an employee terminates, a good rule of thumb is to follow the state's statute of limitations on contract, fraud, and/or tort claims. In most states, this time will not usually exceed seven years. This is a good timeframe to follow even though some of the federal regulations stipulate three years for keeping personnel records.
Whenever a policy is established, it is imperative to conduct training following the implementation of the record retention policy. This is needed so that each HR staff member and manager affected by the changes knows what the policy and procedures are for both filing paperwork, as well as purging information from an employee's file.
Moreover, when you do implement a policy and procedure for employee records, it is a good idea to establish an auditing system at the same time and determine when the audits will be conducted. This helps to ensure that nothing is missing, misfiled, or information filed in the wrong folder. Should you be audited by a compliance agency and they find documentation that should not be filed into folders, you are missing information, or you have destroyed information prior to the end of the time period, then your organization could receive hefty fines.
Establish clear and concise policies and procedures, conduct training on the new policies and procedures, and perform audits, at least yearly, to ensure that your personnel files are accurate and up-to-date.
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