In our experience employee HR filing systems are a mixed bag, often sparsely existent or overloaded with documents. Here are three important points every company should consider.
1. What’s the Law?
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) defines how personal information can be processed by external parties such as a businesses in the UK. It applies to information held electronically and in paper format.
Data protection principles state that personal information should be used in a fair and lawful manner. It should only be used for its purpose, be held accurately and stored for no longer than necessary.
In view of this it is advisable that all employee files and data is held in a confidential manner, with secure access for HR and authorised personnel only. Care should be taken when transferring this data either within or outside of the UK ensuring that there is adequate protection.
The DPA is overseen by the Information Commissioner’s Office, who provides further guidelines on how a company can enforce and adhere to the DPA. Please click on the following link to find out more: www.ico.org.uk
2. To File or Not To File
An employee HR file should be maintained for the purpose of recording key stages during the employee’s life cycle. As minimum best practice it is advisable for a company to hold the following employee documents for their employee’s:
- Contract of employment or terms and conditions of employment signed by the employee and employer.
- Contract variation letters signed by the employee and employer (if applicable).
- Copies of salary review letters.
- Copies of probation letters issued to the employee such as a probation extension, pass or fail.
- Signed and verified copies of all right to work documentation.
- A signed acceptance of the company Health and Safety policy from the employee.
- Copies of any training certificates as per company requirements.
- Copies of signed and completed HR forms as per company requirements.
3. To Retain or Not to Retain
Legally, an employer must maintain paper or electronic employee data or files for a set period of time. The period of time will vary by the type of data or file held; and should not be held longer than necessary.
In line with the Information Commissioners Office guidelines, the Data Protection Act 1998 and from PlusHR’s best practice knowledge please find below our recommended data retention periods applicable to paper and electronic employee data and files. We would advise that a quarterly audit is conducted as per these periods as best practice.
|Type of Data||Data Retention Period|
|Application form / CV / Recruitment interview notes||Duration of employment and 1 year from end of employment|
|Right to work documentation||Duration of employment and 2 years from end of employment|
|References received / Qualification details / Background checking documents|
Please note: Information regarding criminal convictions obtained as part of the recruitment process through a Disclosure and Barring service should not be retained on file. The only exception to this is if this information is required as part of the employee’s on-going employment.
|Duration of employment and 1 year from end of employment|
|Health and safety policy statements||Duration of employment and 1 year from end of employment|
|Training certificates / records||Duration of employment and 1 year from end of employment|
|Contract of Employment or Terms and Conditions of Employment||Duration of employment and 6 years from end of employment|
|Probation letters||Duration of employment and 6 years from end of employment|
|Contract variation / Salary review letters||Duration of employment and 6 years from end of employment|
|Payroll and tax information (E.g. P45/P46/MATB1)||6 years|
|Sickness records (E.g. FIT Notes, medical certificates)||6 years|
|Annual leave records||6 years|
|Unpaid leave/special leave records||6 years|
|Maternity/paternity/adoption/parental leave records||6 years|
|Annual appraisal/assessment records||Duration of employment and 1 year from end of employment|
|Records relating to disciplinary / grievance matters||Duration of employment and 1 year from end of employment / Duration for the period of the live warning|
|References given/information to enable references to be provided||Duration of employment and 6 years from end of employment|
|Summary of record of service e.g. name, position held, dates of employment||10 years from end of employment|
|Records relating to accident or injury at work (Where relevant)||12 years|