The Paper Chase: Three Important Tips for Business Record Retention

by on July 6, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

How can you make business record retention manageable while maximizing your benefit out of the documents you choose to keep?

Remember three general points when handling business record retention.

  1. Federal standards of business record retention are generally applicable to everyone, but there are state standards, too. In any sort of question or dilemma that you come up on regarding your business record retention, you always want to be mindful that state law may prescribe a different or more lengthy time that you have to keep certain records or may actually require you to keep more records than the federal law otherwise would.
  2. Keep two primary considerations in mind. These two considerations should inform every decision that you make about the various records that you want to keep and the various records that you may want to discard.
    • How long does the law say that I have to keep this information?
    • How long do we need this record?

    Just because the law says that you need to keep a record for one year doesn’t mean necessarily that at the end of one year, you need to get rid of it. Business record retention laws do not take into account that your business may depend on you keeping that record for longer if a problem arises.

  3. Remember the benefits of the paper chase.

    You need to have the information available for the employees’ benefit and for the company’s benefit. There may be important benefit decisions or important seniority decisions that the employee records are necessary to resolve.

    Business record retention is an important preventative tool. If you keep good employment records, you’re going to start noticing when one of your employees seems to be getting a pretty thick personnel file. That could be a sign that that employee may have some problems that you need to resolve.

    Business record retention is crucial in a legal situation. The personnel file, if it’s well kept, well-documented and well-supported, can be your best friend in a fight against potential employment claims.

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