"Winning the Paper Chase"- How not to be overwhelmed with document retention

by on July 8, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Process management in document retention

Many human resource professionals that I worked with on a daily basis often complain of the struggle that they have in keeping up with document retention flow that just can really threatened to overwhelm your life on a daily basis.

There’s a lot of paper coming through, there’s a lot of information being generated. And because of the various legal requirements that your organization is subject to, you have to keep most of it in some sense of a reasonable and accessible format.

The sense that I get from a lot of the human resource and personnel professionals that I work with that they are similarly overwhelmed with document retention

There are two primary considerations that to keep in mind with document retention

  1. How long does the law say that I have to keep this document?
  2. Look at the federal standards and general rules of thumb for document retention. So you’ll have some things there. You’ll obviously want to consult your state law. But the first thing that you’re going to want to ask yourself is how long does the law say I have to keep this document? Now, just because the law says that you have to keep a document for three years, doesn’t mean that at the end of three years that you have to destroy it.

  3. How long do we need it?
  4. For example, let’s say that in your particular business, you have some payroll documents. Well, under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, you’re going to need to keep most payroll documents for at least three years.However, in your particular business, those records are going to be handy to keep around and they’re going to be necessary for you just to keep your business running and just to keep the lights on. So, you need to keep them for five years for business purposes. By all means, keep them for five years.

    But on the other hand, let’s imagine that you only need them for your business purposes for one year but the law says you have to keep them for three. So, you need to keep them around for three years.

My point here is just to say whenever you’re going into these considerations you need to answer both of those document retention questions before you know how long you need to store that paperwork

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar: “Personnel Document Retention: What to Keep, How to Keep it & Why it Matters” by Matthew Gilley Esq.

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