As you make sure your electronic human resources and business records are handled correctly, having the appropriate HR employee management system can be of great value.

Is your human resources department retaining and destroying legal documents in compliance with the law? And when employees work at home on their own computers, what are the rules?

Making mistakes can be expensive, so make sure you follow the law. Businesses, governments, and corporations need HR strategies for preserving, protecting, producing, and even destroying digital records.

Keeping records for operational, legal, fiscal, or historical reasons — and then destroying them when they’re no longer needed — is part of a records retention schedule. Depending on your experience and legal mandates, you might base your records retention schedule on what other companies are doing.

Regardless of how you do it, use your retention schedule as a guide, not as a rule. When there’s a chance of litigation, government investigation, or an audit, keep your records even longer. You should stop all disposal activities immediately if a legal action comes up.

HR Employee Management System, Inventory, and Review

Before you can establish an efficient records management arrangement and structure, you have to know what you have and how long you should keep it. The reason you need a company retention schedule is because you need to inventory your records.

Before you implement your records retention timetable, have your CPA and attorney review it.

Additionally, you may want to use these professional tips to review your organization’s policies regularly to ensure they comply with federal, state, and local requirements — including creating a schedule, restricting access, maintaining separate files, going electronic, and purging and improving processes. “Operational upheavals during the pandemic, coupled with the new emphasis on remote work, have required HR professionals to change how they handle and where they store employment records,” this professional advice states. “Now is a good time to review your organization’s policies and practices on record retention to ensure they comply with federal, state, and local requirements. For the solo HR practitioner, this can be a herculean task.”

In addition to researching the right employee manager software system on your own, below is a standard retention schedule. Depending on your business, you also need to consider state and local statutes of limitations and government regulations. Records retention laws vary a lot between states when it comes to taxes, unemployment, workers compensation, and other items. Details are available from your state and regional authorities.

Tips for a Planning Schedule

Keep these things in mind when creating a retention schedule, whether you use these guidelines or do your own research:

  • Keeping documents just for sentimental reasons isn’t a good idea. Every asset must earn its keep. If you want to create a “company memory,” take a comprehensive look at the past, but also try your best to avoid legal risks.
  • Record retention timetables help you segment records — so make sure you implement them.
  • Keep only items you need, such as drafts, reminders, work sheets, and extra copies.
  • Documents should be kept and destroyed systematically.
  • Keep records only for legal, operational, and archival reasons.

In the Absence of Requirements

Remember: your HR employee management system is an important partner in your records retention strategy. Does a law specify a retention period? There’s nothing unusual about this question. It’s possible that legal requirements don’t specify a retention period for certain records.

Even if you looked for a law that addressed your specific documents, it’s very probably you won’t find one. Perhaps you found that certain records have to be kept, but you couldn’t figure out how long.

In fact, “The following records shall be maintained…” is the wording many compliance regulations oftentimes contain. With this language, you don’t get the retention period. Since there’s no permission for records to be destroyed, most people interpret it as “permanently.”

How do you handle this? If a law doesn’t specify a retention period, businesses should keep records for three years under the Uniform Preservation of Private Business Records Act (UPPBRA). Keeping them longer could lead to legal trouble for your organization. It’s only in eight states, though.

Overall, records should be kept long enough for the state to monitor compliance with its regulations — essentially, a “reasonable” period. According to UPPBRA and federal records, a three-year retention period is fine.

In case you can’t find any legal requirements about keeping records, how long should you keep them? You should keep your records for three years if your legal research was thorough. Nevertheless, you should document how you searched and what assumptions you used. You’ll have proof that your organization made a good-faith attempt to comply with the law if you missed a requirement during your search.

Plus, your employee manager software system should serve as a great sidekick to this entire process.

More Tips: Managing Electronic Records & HR Employee Management System

Additional tips:

  • Develop rules for email, mobile devices, social media, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and other digital tools.
  • Use technology that protects records.
  • Keeping HR and electronic records up-to-date and compliant.
  • Maintain a litigation-hold policy in support of records retention.
  • Follow records rules for onsite, remote, and work-from-home staff.
  • Put policies and procedures in place for new and emerging HR concerns, such as COVID-19 and medical/recreational marijuana.
  • Ensure compliance with state and federal eDiscovery laws.
  • Whether staff is work-from-home, hybrid or onsite, everyone needs to know about records rules.
  • Differentiate between business and non-business records.
  • Make sure your privacy and sensitive information is protected.

Digital HR Recordkeeping

Most businesses and organizations create and store more than 80 percent of company records electronically, from emails to Slack messages to social media. Their HR employee management system can be a crucial part of this structure.

As a result, COVID-19 has made keeping digital records even riskier as your company has to follow new rules for storing vaccine records, medical records, and other information. Does your human resources department keep and purge legal documents in full compliance with the law? Do employees have to follow retention rules if they work from home?

Make sure your HR and business records are handled correctly. You must comply with the law, and mistakes could cost you — both professionally and personally.

You may even want to make record-retention goals part of your OKRs — your Objectives and Key Results. Your OKR strategy and analysis should be riding alongside your employee work management software. There’s no doubt they are distinct from each other — separate programs, interfaces, and initiatives. However, this type of employee software is essential to simultaneously reaching your Objectives and Key Results.

VCS Software is your all-in-one HR employee management system for small businesses, medium companies, large corporations, and government agencies, departments and organizations. VCS Software provides the right solutions within industries such as hospitality, construction, retail, manufacturing, event management, field service, law enforcement, correctional facilities, and so many more.

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