October 19, 2012 by Mitch Taube Categories: Document Management

We’ve blogged previously about how to streamline HR processes with document management technology, such as utilizing electronic forms (e-forms) for new employee on-boarding and workflow automation software for employee reviews. So, what about something a little more “straightforward” like archiving employee records?

HR departments need to retain most employee records for one to ten years from the “date of action.” This covers hiring documents, testing, and employee status changes such as promotions, demotions, transfers, layoffs, and training. Even job orders submitted to employment agencies and job ads must be retained for one year.

This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Consider the retention schedule, as required by US law, for other employee records that range from 2-30 years—and indefinitely in some cases*:

  • FMLA records: three years
  • INS I-9 forms: three years after date of hire or one year after date of termination (whichever is later)
  • Payroll records: three years
  • Drug tests: five years (records pertaining to the process: only two years)
  • OSHA forms 300, 300A & 301: five years
  • Health records: six years
  • Exposure to hazardous materials records: 30 years
  • Benefits plans and pension documents: indefinitely

The kicker: each state can have its own additional requirements.

How can HR departments effectively manage these retention schedules (and destruction) of each document, so that they can also be quickly accessed whenever needed internally or as part of a lawsuit or audit? Document management offers this capability with its record retention capability.

How can you utilize the most cost-effective document management? Cloud document management offers all the benefits of document management for a modest monthly expense vs. a capital expenditure and is especially important when you have more than one location and need immediate and seamless access to HR documents at any time.

How do you get all paper-based employee records into your document management system? Document scanning, which you can outsource or do it yourself.

How can HR departments get into hot water? By storing paper documents in filing cabinets, basements or off-site storage and not having a record retention policy. The water becomes even hotter when there is a law suit and you need to locate documents quickly.

* Digiscribe Tip: Because the referenced retention schedules change, are not comprehensive and may be trumped by state or industry guidelines, we recommend consulting with a certified records manager before creating a records retention policy and specific guidelines. The industry trade groups ARMA and ICRM are both good resources for additional information on records management.

This is the third and final post in a three-part series about human resources.