With the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into force in May 2018, more employers are asking how long should I keep employee records?
The starting point is to ask what the records are kept for?
Every record you hold about your existing and former employees has been created for different reasons. These can include contact details, employment contracts, disciplinary minutes, performance appraisals, training, identification documents and financial information.
The current Data Protection Act (which GDPR will replace) stipulates that data and records should only be stored for as long as they are useful, so it’s up to you as the employer to decide on this and include it in your HR policy.
Some types of records will need to be disposed of at different times, and it is generally good practise to cleanse your HR files regularly to ensure only information that is relevant and necessary is retained.
Having said that it is recommended that employees personal information, including contact details, appraisals and reviews be kept for at least 5 years, and you should keep hold of employee’s financial records for at least 3 years as HMRC may want to see them in this time.
When an employee leaves a company you should cleanse the file and keep only relevant information, which should then be kept for 6 years. After which you can work out which records are still valuable for the business to keep and those that aren’t.
Staff records contain sensitive information so it’s essential you ensure they are disposed of correctly. This includes cross shredding of paper records and the secure disposable of hard drives, which should be destroyed rather than formatted