The idea of a “paperless office” has been around for decades, and yet, most likely, yours is full of paper. That means you periodically feel the need to jettison some before it swamps you.
But you’d better not just throw it all in the dumpster. No, no. That’s not the way to get rid of corporate documents generally, and it’s certainly not the way to get rid of employee records.
Beyond the broad notion of protecting current and past employees’ privacy, HR is bound by federal law in how it disposes of certain records, paper or electronic.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act’s Disposal Rule requires employers who use “consumer reports or information derived” from them to dispose of such information securely when they no longer need it.
You may have this kind of info on file in the form of credit reports or scores, employment background checks, insurance claims, residential or tenant histories, or medical histories.
The Rule says employers must “burn, pulverize, or shred” paper documents, and “destroy or erase” electronic records. If you contract the job out, you must make sure your outside provider gets rid of the documents in those specified ways.
How long should you retain such employee records before destroying them? That depends in part on what state you’re in, and how conservative you want to be. But the American Bar Association, as a general rule, suggests keeping employment and personnel records for six years.
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